Heterosubtypic immunity (HSI) is defined as cross-protection against influenza virus of a different serotype than the virus initially encountered and is thought to be mediated by influenza virus-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL). Since gamma interferon (IFN-γ) stimulates cytotoxic cells, including antigen-specific CTL which may control virus replication by secretion of antiviral cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor alpha and IFN- γ, we have investigated the mechanism of HSI by analyzing the role of IFN-γ for HSI in IFN-γ gene-deleted (IFN-γ(-/-)) mice. It has been reported that IFN-γ is not required for recovery from primary infection with influenza virus but is important for HSI. Here, we conclusively show that IFN-γ is not required for induction of secondary influenza virus-specific CTL responses in mediastinal lymph nodes and HSI to lethal influenza A virus infection. Although T helper 2 (Th2)-type cytokines were upregulated in the lungs of IFN-γ(-/-) mice after virus challenge, either Th1- or Th2-biased responses could provide heterosubtypic protection. Furthermore, titers of serum- neutralizing and cross-reactive antibodies to conserved nucleoprotein in IFN- γ(-/-) mice-did not differ significantly from those in immunocompetent mice. These results indicate that lack of IFN-γ does not impair cross-reactive virus-specific immune responses and HSI to lethal infection with influenza virus. Our findings provide new insight for the mechanisms of HSI and should be valuable in the development of protective mucosal vaccines against variant virus strains, such as influenza and human immunodeficiency virus.