During T cell development, precursor thymocytes that co-express the CD4 and CD8 glycoproteins give rise to mature progeny expressing one of these molecules to the exclusion of the other. Continued expression of only CD4 is the hallmark of mature helper T cells, whereas cytotoxic T cells express CD8 and extinguish CD4. The differentiation program that generates the two T cell subsets is likely to be intimately tied to regulation of expression of these cell surface molecules. We now describe the use of a murine CD4 enhancer in the generation of transgenic mice expressing physiologic levels of human CD4. The transgene is appropriately regulated during T cell development and includes the necessary cis-acting sequences for extinguishing expression in the CD8 lineage. Furthermore, in mice whose endogenous CD4 gene is inactivated, the transgenic human CD4 mediates rescue of the CD4 lineage and restoration of normal helper cell functions. The generation of these mice exemplifies a general approach for developing reliable animal models for the human immune system.