Allergen-induced contact hypersensitivity (CHS) is a T cell-mediated delayed-type immune response which has been considered to be primarily mediated by CD8+ T cytotoxic type I (Tc1) cells. IFN-gamma, the prototype Tc1 (Th1) cytokine, has been implicated as the primary inflammatory cytokine for CHS. In this study, we demonstrate that neutralization of IL-17 rather than IFN-gamma suppresses the elicitation of CHS. The suppression does not result from inhibition of the proliferation of allergen-activated T cells. Allergen sensitization induces the development of distinct CD8+ T cell subpopulations that produce IFN-gamma or IL-17. Although CD8+ IL-17-producing cells are stimulated by IL-23, they are inhibited by IL-12, a prototypical stimulator of IFN-gamma-producing Tc1 cells. This indicates that CD8+ IL-17-producing cells are distinct from Tc1 cells and are important in effector functions at the elicitation of CHS. These studies provide insights into a novel mechanism for CHS.