Mice with homologous disruption of the gene coding for the ligand-binding chain of the interferon (IFN) gamma receptor and derived from a strain genetically resistant to infection with Leishmania major have been used to study further the role of this cytokine in the differentiation of functional CD4+ T cell subsets in vivo and resistance to infection. Wild-type 129/Sv/Ev mice are resistant to infection with this parasite, developing only small lesions, which resolve spontaneously within 6 wk. In contrast, mice lacking the IFN-gamma receptor develop large, progressing lesions. After infection, lymph nodes (LN) and spleens from both wild-type and knockout mice showed an expansion of CD4+ cells producing IFN-gamma as revealed by measuring IFN-gamma in supernatants of specifically stimulated CD4+ T cells, by enumerating IFN-gamma-producing T cells, and by Northern blot analysis of IFN-gamma transcripts. No biologically active interleukin (IL) 4 was detected in supernatants of in vitro-stimulated LN or spleen cells from infected wild-type or deficient mice. Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction analysis with primers specific for IL-4 showed similar IL-4 message levels in LN from both types of mice. The IL-4 message levels observed were comparable to those found in similarly infected C57BL/6 mice and significantly lower than the levels found in BALB/c mice. Anti-IFN-gamma treatment of both types of mice failed to alter the pattern of cytokines produced after infection. These data show that even in the absence of IFN-gamma receptors, T helper cell (Th) 1-type responses still develop in genetically resistant mice with no evidence for the expansion of Th2 cells.