Helper versus cytotoxic T lineage decision in the thymus has been studied as a model for silencing of alternative lineage genes. Although the transcription factor RUNX3 is required for the initiation of Cd4 silencing in developing CD8 T cells, it is unknown how silencing of Cd4 and other helper T lineage genes is maintained. We show that the histone methyltransferase G9a is necessary for silencing helper T lineage genes in proliferating mouse CD8 T cells. Despite normal initial Cd4 downregulation, G9a-deficient CD8 T cells derepress Cd4 and other helper lineage genes during repeated division in lymphopenia or in response to tumor Ag. However, G9a was dispensable for continued silencing of those genes in CD8 T cells that respond to infection by Listeria monocytogenes. These results demonstrate that G9a facilitates maintenance of cellular identity of CD8 T cells during cell division, which is further reinforced by inflammatory signals.