This brief review is intended to provide a concise overview of the current literature concerning T cells, advances in identifying distinct T cell functional subsets, and in distinguishing effector cells from memory cells. We compare and contrast a wealth of recent progress made in T cell immunology of teleost, elasmobranch, and agnathan fish, to knowledge derived from mammalian T cell studies. From genome studies, fish clearly have most components associated with T cell function and we can speculate on the presence of putative T cell subsets, and the ability to detect their differentiation to form memory cells. Some recombinant proteins for T cell associated cytokines and antibodies for T cell surface receptors have been generated that will facilitate studying the functional roles of teleost T cells during immune responses. Although there is still a long way to go, major advances have occurred in recent years for investigating T cell responses, thus phenotypic and functional characterization is on the near horizon. © 2011.