One unresolved issue in gut immunity is how mucosal T lymphocytes are activated and which antigen-presenting cell (APC) is critical for the regulation of this process. We have identified a unique population of APCs that is exclusively localized in the lamina propria. These APCs constitutively expressed the costimulatory molecule CD70 and had antigen-presenting functions. After oral infection of mice with Listeria monocytogenes, proliferation and differentiation of antigen-specific T cells occurred in the gut mucosa in situ and blockade of CD70 costimulation abrogated the mucosal T cell proliferation and effector functions. Thus, a potent CD70-dependent stimulation via specialized tissue-specific APCs is required for the proliferation and differentiation of gut mucosal T cells after oral infection.