Interferon gamma (IFN-γ) is a key factor in the protection of hosts against intracellular parasites. This cytokine induces parasite killing through nitric oxide and reactive oxygen species production by phagocytes. Surprisingly, during Leishmania amazonensis infection, IFN-γ plays controversial roles. During in vitro infections, IFN-γ induces the proliferation of the amastigote forms of L. amazonensis. However, this cytokine is not essential at the beginning of an in vivo infection. It is not clear why IFN-γ does not mediate protection during the early stages of infection. Thus, the aim of our study was to investigate the role of IFN-γ during L. amazonensis infection. We infected IFN-γ(-/-) mice in the footpad and followed the development of leishmaniasis in these mice compared with that in WT mice. CD4(+) T lymphocytes and macrophages migrated earlier to the site of infection in the WT mice, and the earlier migration of these 2 cell types was associated with lesion development and parasite growth, respectively. These differences in the infiltrate populations were explained by the increased expression of chemokines in the lesions of the WT mice. Thus, we propose that IFN-γ plays a dual role during L. amazonensis infection; it is an important inducer of effector mechanisms, particularly through inducible nitric oxide synthase expression, and conversely, it is a mediator of inflammation and pathogenesis through the induction of the expression of chemokines. Our data provided evidence for a pathogenic effect of IFN-γ production during leishmaniasis that was previously unknown.