Interferon (IFN)-gamma is a potent immunoregulatory protein secreted by CD4+ and CD8+ T cells and by natural killer cells. Here, we show that IFN-gamma is specifically displayed at a low concentration on the cell surface of those activated T cells from mouse and man which express IFN-gamma. It is transiently expressed on the cell surface with kinetics similar to those of intracellular IFN-gamma expression. Detectable surface IFN-gamma is not expressed by activated T helper (Th) cells producing other cytokines but which do not express IFN-gamma. Thus, surface IFN-gamma is the first available marker for live T lymphocytes expressing IFN-gamma, e.g. Th1 cells.