Delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) is defined as the recruitment of T cells into tissues to be activated by antigen-presenting cells to produce cytokines that mediate local inflammation. CD8+ T cells are now known to mediate DTH responses in allergic contact dermatitis, drug eruptions, asthma, and autoimmune diseases. This inflammatory effector capability of CD8+ cytotoxic T cells was previously poorly recognized, but there is now considerable evidence that these diseases may be mediated by CD8+ DTH. The difference between CD8+ T cells and CD4+ T cells mediating DTH relates to the molecular mechanisms by which antigens are processed and presented to the T cells. Antigens external to the cell are phagocytosed and processed for presentation on MHC class II molecules (eg, HLA-DR) to CD4+ T cells. In contrast, internal cytoplasmic antigens are processed by the endogenous pathway for presentation on MHC class I molecules (eg, HLA-A, -B, and -C) to CD8+ T cells. External allergens can also enter the endogenous pathway to be presented to CD8+ T cells. These include many contact sensitizers, chemical and protein respiratory allergens, viral antigens, metabolic products of drugs, and autoantigens. The resulting CD8+ T-cell response explains the role of CD8+ T-cell DTH mechanisms in allergic contact dermatitis, asthma, drug eruptions, and autoimmune diseases.