Normal mice infected with 10(5) infectious doses of lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV, WE isolate) generated a reduced or no T cell-independent IgM and/or T cell-dependent IgG response to a subsequent vesicular stomatitis virus Indiana (VSV-IND) injection; this transient immune suppression lasted for weeks to months. Connatally infected LCMV-carrier mice or acutely infected T cell-deficient nude mice had normal anti-VSV IgM and IgG or IgM responses respectively. LCMV-infected nude mice transfused with helper cell-depleted LCMV-specific immune spleen cells were immunosuppressed. Normal mice infected with LCMV but treated with a rat anti-CD8 mAb (that had been shown previously to eliminate cytotoxic T cells in vivo) and then infected with VSV exhibited a normal anti-VSV IgM and IgG response. Since no IFN-alpha or -beta was detected on, or after, day 6 of LCMV infection, neither LCMV alone, nor IFN induced by it caused the observed immune suppression; the presented evidence suggests that LCMV-immune CD8+ T cells were responsible for it. It is conceivable that a similar pathogenesis where virus-specific cytotoxic T cells may destroy virus-infected cells essentially involved in an immune response (APC, T helper cells, etc.) may be involved in other virally triggered immune suppression or in AIDS.