Human rhinovirus (HRV) is a frequent respiratory pathogen, responsible for a large proportion of cases of the "common cold" and linked to acute asthma, especially in children. T cell responses to HRV and their contribution to HRV-associated pathology were investigated. T cells were obtained from tonsils removed from children at routine tonsillectomy. Proliferative and cytokine responses were measured after in vitro restimulation with purified HRV preparations of both major and minor serotypes. Most tonsils tested showed T cell proliferation, and responses to multiple serotypes in one tonsil were observed frequently. Responding T cells were CD4-positive and produced interleukin-2 and interferon-gamma but no interleukin-4. Thus, children respond to HRV, a proportion of the response is serotype-cross-reactive, and a Th1 reaction predominates. In addition to contributing to protection, this response may enhance expression of virus receptor and be implicated in the immunopathology of HRV infection.