Coxsackievirus B3 (CVB3) causes severe myocarditis in BALB/c mice which depends upon CD4(+) T helper type 1 [Th1; i.e. interferon-gamma(+) (IFN-gamma(+))] and gammadelta(+) cells. Depleting gammadelta(+) cells using anti-gammadelta antibody suppresses myocarditis and CD4(+) IFN-gamma(+) cell numbers in the spleen and heart of infected mice while increasing CD4(+) FoxP3(+) cells. Mice deficient in gammadelta(+) cells have increased numbers of naïve (CD44(lo) CD62L(hi)) and fewer effector (CD44(hi) CD62(lo)) memory CD4(+) cells than infected gammadelta(+)-cell-sufficient mice. Virus neutralizing antibody titres are not significantly different between gammadelta(+) T-cell-sufficient and -deficient animals. To confirm that the memory cell response differs in acutely infected mice lacking gammadelta(+) cells, CD4(+) cells were purified and adoptively transferred into naïve recipients, which were rested for 4 weeks then infected with CVB3. Recipients given either 0.5 x 10(6) or 1.0 x 10(6) CD4(+) from infected donors developed over twice the severity myocarditis and 10-fold less cardiac virus titre compared with recipients given equivalent numbers of CD4(+) cells from infected and gammadelta(+)-cell-depleted donor animals. Additionally, to show that more functionally active T regulatory cells are present in gammadelta(+) T-cell-depleted mice, CD4(+) CD25(+) and CD4(+) CD25(-) cells were isolated and adoptively transferred into infected recipients. Mice receiving CD4(+) CD25(+) cells from gammadelta(+) T-cell-depleted donors developed significantly less myocarditis and CD4(+) Th1 cell responses compared with mice receiving equal numbers of CD4(+) CD25(+) cells from infected gammadelta(+) T-cell-sufficient animals. This study shows that gammadelta(+) cells promote CD4(+) IFN-gamma(+) acute and memory responses by limiting FoxP3(+) T regulatory cell activation.