In experimental murine cutaneous leishmaniasis caused by Leishmania major (Lm), the cellular determinants governing development of protective or exacerbative T cells are not well understood. We, therefore, attempted to determine the influence of T cell and non-T cell compartments on disease outcome. To this end, T cell chimeric mice were constructed using adult thymectomized lethally irradiated, bone marrow-reconstituted (ATXBM) animals of genetically resistant, C57BL/6, or susceptible, BALB/c, backgrounds. These hosts were engrafted with naive T cell populations from H-2-congenic susceptible, BALB.B6-H-2b, or resistant, C57BL/6.C-H-2d, animals, respectively. Chimeric mice were then infected with Lm, and disease outcome was monitored. BALB/c T cell chimeric mice, BALB/c ATXBM hosts given naive C57BL/6.C-H-2d T cells, resolved their infections as indicated by reductions in both lesion size and parasite numbers. Furthermore, the mice developed typical Th1 (interferon[IFN]-gamma hiinterleukin[IL]-4lo) cytokine patterns. In contrast, both sham chimeric, BALB/c ATXBM hosts given naive BALB/c T cells, and control irradiated euthymic mice succumbed to infection, producing Th2 profiles (IFN-gamma loIL-4hiIL-10hi). C57BL/6 T cell chimeras, C57BL/6 ATXBM hosts given naive BALB.B6-H-2b T cells, resolved their infections as did C57BL/6 sham chimeras and euthymic controls. Interestingly, whereas C57BL/6 control animals produced Th1 cytokines, chimeric animals progressed from Th0 (IFN-gamma hiIL-4hiIL-10hi) to Th2 (IFN-gamma loIL-4hiIL-10hi) cytokine profiles as cure ensued. Both reconstitution and chimeric status of all mice were confirmed by flow cytometry. In addition, T cell receptor V beta usage of Lm-specific blasts was determined. In all cases, V beta use was multiclonal, involving primarily V beta 2, 4, 6, 8.1, 8.2, 8.3, 10, and 14, with relative V beta frequencies differing between H-2b and H-2d animals. Most importantly, however, these differences did not segregate between cure and noncure outcomes. These findings indicate that: (a) genetic traits determining cure in Lm infection can direct disease outcome from both T cell and non-T cell compartments; (b) the presence of the curing genotype in only one compartment is sufficient to confer cure; (c) curing genotype T cells autonomously assume a Th1 cytokine profile-mediating cure; (d) noncuring genotype T cells can mediate cure in a curing environment, despite the onset of Th2 cytokine production; and lastly, (e) antigen specificity of responding T cells, as assessed by V beta T cell receptor diversity, is not a critical determinant of disease outcome.