The naive CD4 T cell is a multipotential precursor with defined antigen recognition specificity but substantial plasticity for development down distinct effector or regulatory lineages, contingent upon signals from cells of the innate immune system. The range of identified effector CD4 T cell lineages has recently expanded with description of an IL-17-producing subset, called Th17, which develops via cytokine signals distinct from, and antagonized by, products of the Th1 and Th2 lineages. Remarkably, Th17 development depends on the pleiotropic cytokine TGF-β, which is also linked to regulatory T cell development and function, providing a unique mechanism for matching CD4 T cell effector and regulatory lineage specification. Here, we review Th17 lineage development, emphasizing similarities and differences with established effector and regulatory T cell developmental programs that have important implications for immune regulation, immune pathogenesis, and host defense. © 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.