The mucosal surfaces of the lungs are a major portal of entry for virus infections and there are urgent needs for new vaccines that promote effective pulmonary immunity. However, we have only a rudimentary understanding of the requirements for effective cellular immunity in the respiratory tract. Recent studies have revealed that specialized cellular immune responses and lymphoid tissues are involved in the protection of distinct anatomical microenvironments of the respiratory tract, such as the large airways of the nose and the alveolar airspaces. This review discusses some of the anatomical features of anti-viral immunity in the respiratory tract including the role of local lymphoid tissues and the relationship between effector and memory T cells in the airways, the lung parenchyma, and lymphoid organs. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.