Synthetic oligodeoxynucleotides (ODN) that contain unmethylated CpG motifs (CpG ODN) induce macrophages to secrete IL-12, which induces interferon (IFN)-gamma secretion by natural killer (NK) cells. Since these cytokines can induce T helper 1 (Th1) differentiation, we examined the effects of coadministered CpG ODN on the differentiation of Th responses to hen egg lysozyme (HEL). In both BALB/c (Th2-biased) and B10.D2 (Th1-biased) mice, immunization with HEL in incomplete Freund's adjuvant (IFA) resulted in Th2-dominated immune responses characterized by HEL-specific secretion of IL-5 but not IFN-gamma. In contrast, immunization with IFA-HEL plus CpG ODN switched the immune response to a Th1-dominated cytokine pattern, with high levels of HEL-specific IFN-gamma secretion and decreased HEL-specific IL-5 production. IFA-HEL plus CpG ODN also induced anti-HEL IgG2a (a Th1-associated isotype), which was not induced by IFA-HEL alone. Control non-CpG ODN did not induce IFN-gamma or IgG2a, excepting lesser increases in B10.D2 (Th1-biased) mice. Thus, CpG ODN provide a signal to switch on Th1-dominated responses to coadministered antigen and are potential adjuvants for human vaccines to elicit protective Th1 immunity.