Current thinking attributes the balance between T helper 1 (Th1) and Th2 cytokine response patterns in immune responses to the nature of the antigen, the genetic composition of the host, and the cytokines involved in the early interaction between T cells and antigen-presenting cells. Here we introduce glutathione, a tripeptide that regulates intracellular redox and other aspects of cell physiology, as a key regulatory element in this process. By using three different methods to deplete glutathione from T cell receptor transgenic and conventional mice and studying in vivo and/or in vitro responses to three distinct antigens, we show that glutathione levels in antigen-presenting cells determine whether Th1 or Th2 response patterns predominate. These findings present new insights into immune response alterations in HIV and other diseases. Further, they potentially offer an explanation for the well known differences in immune responses in "Th1" and "Th2" mouse strains.