Patients who survive severe sepsis often display severely compromised immune function. One hallmark of such immune suppression in septic patients is an impaired delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) response, manifested by a loss of skin testing to recall Ags. Because sepsis induces significant apoptosis in lymphoid and myeloid cells, and apoptotic cells are themselves tolerogenic, we tested the hypothesis that suppression of DTH is mediated by tolerogenic properties of the apoptotic cells generated during sepsis. Mice subjected to cecal ligation and puncture demonstrated a loss of DTH for the 7 d following cecal ligation and puncture; however, the immune response returned to normal by day 10. Blocking sepsis-induced apoptosis via Bcl-2 overexpression or Bim deficiency prevented the loss of DTH. Importantly, injection of apoptotic cells into Bim-/- mice prevented an effective DTH response, thereby suggesting a causal link between apoptotic cells and immune suppression. Surprisingly, when TRAIL null mice were examined, we found that these animals had significant apoptosis but retained their DTH responses. Further studies revealed that apoptotic cells generated during sepsis induced a CD8+ regulatory T cell that suppressed DTH by TRAIL production. These results establish a link between apoptotic cells and immune suppression during sepsis and suggest TRAIL may be a viable therapeutic target for boosting the adaptive immune response following sepsis.