Nerve-specific autoimmune T lymphocytes were used as vehicles to deliver therapeutically useful neurotrophic factors across the endothelial blood-nerve barrier. P2 protein-reactive T-lymphocyte lines from Lewis rats were transduced with a recombinant retrovirus containing the mouse nerve growth factor (NGF) gene. The engineered T cells released high amounts of NGF dependent on antigenic stimulation in vitro. After intravenous injection, the T cells infiltrated the rat peripheral nervous system and persisted there for at least two weeks. Local release of NGF from engineered T cells was demonstrable by immunocytochemistry and by an anti-inflammatory effect on infiltrating macrophages.