Although the transcription factor c-Myc is essential for the establishment of a metabolically active and proliferative state in T cells after priming, its expression is transient. It remains unknown how T cell activation is maintained after c-Myc expression is downregulated. Here we identified AP4 as the transcription factor that was induced by c-Myc and sustained activation of antigen-specific CD8+ T cells. Despite normal priming, AP4-deficient CD8+ T cells failed to continue transcription of a broad range of c-Myc-dependent targets. Mice lacking AP4 specifically in CD8+ T cells showed enhanced susceptibility to infection with West Nile virus. Genome-wide analysis suggested that many activation-induced genes encoding molecules involved in metabolism were shared targets of c-Myc and AP4. Thus, AP4 maintains c-Myc-initiated cellular activation programs in CD8+ T cells to control microbial infection.