Several recent reports have described an effector role for CD8(+) T cells during EAE. We have previously demonstrated reduced disease incidence and severity in CD43(-/-) mice following MOG immunization, and attributed this attenuation in disease progression to the effects of CD43 deficiency on CD4+ T cells. Here, we extend those studies to examine the effects of the loss of CD43 on MOG-specific CD8+ T cells. A reduced frequency of MOG-specific CD8+ T cells following immunization was observed in CD43(-/-) mice relative to wild-type controls, as demonstrated by intracellular cytokine and MHC tetramer staining. In addition, adoptive transfer of CD8+ MOG 35-55-primed LN cells from CD43(-/-) mice resulted in significantly attenuated EAE induction as compared to recipients of wild-type CD8+ MOG-primed cells. Analysis of intracellular signaling intermediates revealed a deficiency in the ability of MOG-specific CD8+ T cells to phosphorylate ERK in response to antigen. These results characterize an important role for CD43 during the activation and expansion of autoreactive MOG-specific CD8+ T cells.