Two models have been proposed to explain the requirement for CD40 signaling in CD8 T cell responses. The first model suggests that CD4 T cells activate antigen-presenting cells (APCs) through CD40 signaling (APC licensing). In turn, licensed APCs are able to prime naive CD8 T cells. The second model suggests that CD154-expressing CD4 T cells activate CD40-bearing CD8 T cells directly. Although the requirement for CD40 in APC licensing can be bypassed by inflammatory responses to pathogens that activate APCs directly, the second model predicts that CD8 responses to all antigens will be dependent on CD40 signaling. Here we determined which model applies to CD8 responses to influenza. We demonstrate that optimal CD8 T cell responses to influenza are dependent on CD40 signaling, however both primary and secondary responses to influenza require CD40 expression on non-T cells. Furthermore, CD40-/- CD8 T cells proliferate and differentiate to the same extent as CD40+/+ CD8 T cells in response to influenza, as long as they have equal access to CD40+/+ APCs. Thus, CD4 T cells do not activate influenza-specific CD8 cells directly through CD40 signaling. Instead, these data support the classical model, in which CD4 T cells provide help to CD8 T cells indirectly by activating APCs through CD40.