Although humoral responses to Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb) have been shown to be protective in some animal models of Lyme disease, the role of T cells in this disease is less well understood. This work describes three Bb-specific T cell lines that prevent disease progression in syngeneic mice. The T cell lines were generated in C3H mice immunized with Bb in complete Freund's adjuvant. All lines were Bb-specific, CD4+, TCRalphabeta+, and they proliferated and produced interferon-gamma and interleukin-2 on stimulation with Bb. Injection of the cell lines into naive C3H recipients significantly reduced the number of organisms recoverable from the blood and tissues of infected mice and protected them from developing Bb-induced periarthritis. These studies demonstrated that Th1 cells can confer resistance to Bb infection in susceptible mice and suggested that the timing of this T cell response may be critical for determining disease outcome.