We studied the role of T cells in resistance to reovirus intestinal and central nervous system infection. Transfer of reovirus-immune adult spleen cells protected neonatal mice from (i) lethal infection with reovirus serotype 3 Dearing (T3D, footpad inoculation) and serotype 3 clone 9 (T3C9, oral inoculation) and (ii) hydrocephalus caused by serotype 1 Lang (T1L, intracranial [i.c.] inoculation). Cell-mediated protection was not serotype specific. While immune cells protected against T1L i.c., they failed to protect against 1/5,000 of the dose of T3D i.c. Two types of experiments showed that both CD4 and CD8 T cells are involved in reovirus resistance. First, immune cell-mediated protection against T3D was abrogated by in vivo treatment with anti-CD4 monoclonal antibody (MAb) and significantly inhibited by in vivo treatment with anti-CD8 MAb. Second, T3C9-infected neonatal mice treated with anti-CD4 and/or anti-CD8 developed a novel disease phenotype, an oily hair syndrome, associated with severe hepatobiliary pathology and increased viral titer in heart and liver. Immune cells and an MAb to the cell attachment protein σ1 (MAb G5) protected by different mechanisms. Immune cells were more effective than σ1 MAb G5 at controlling primary replication, while σ1 MAb G5 was more effective than immune cells at inhibiting neural spread of virus. We conclude that both CD4 and CD8 T cells are important for reovirus resistance, that cells and antibody act preferentially at different stages in pathogenesis in vivo, and that adoptively transferred immune cells can protect both the central nervous system and intestine.