Despite inducing very low IFN-γ response and highly attenuated in vivo, infection of mice with phosphoglycan (PG) deficient Leishmania major (lpg2-) induces protection against virulent L. major challenge. Here, we show that mice infected with lpg2- L. major generate Leishmania-specific memory T cells. However, in vitro and in vivo proliferation, IL-10 and IFN-γ production by lpg2- induced memory cells were impaired in comparison to those induced by wild type (WT) parasites. Interestingly, TNF recall response was comparable to WT infected mice. Despite the impaired proliferation and IFN-γ response, lpg2- infected mice were protected against virulent L. major challenge and their T cells mediated efficient infection-induced immunity. In vivo depletion and neutralization studies with mAbs demonstrated that lpg2- L. major-induced resistance was strongly dependent on IFN-γ, but independent of TNF and CD8+ T cells. Collectively, these data show that the effectiveness of secondary anti-Leishmania immunity depends on the quality (and not the magnitude) of IFN-γ response. These observations provide further support for consideration of lpg2- L. major as a live-attenuated candidate for leishmanization in humans since it protects strongly against virulent challenge, without inducing pathology in infected animals.