We identify in this article a new class of lung tissue-resident memory CD4 T cells that exhibit tissue tropism and retention independent of Ag or inflammation. Tissue-resident memory CD4 T cells in the lung did not circulate or emigrate from the lung in parabiosis experiments, were protected from in vivo Ab labeling, and expressed elevated levels of CD69 and CD11a compared with those of circulating memory populations. Importantly, influenza-specific lung-resident memory CD4 T cells served as in situ protectors to respiratory viral challenge, mediating enhanced viral clearance and survival to lethal influenza infection. By contrast, memory CD4 T cells isolated from spleen recirculated among multiple tissues without retention and failed to mediate protection to influenza infection, despite their ability to expand and migrate to the lung. Our results reveal tissue compartmentalization as a major determining factor for immune-mediated protection in a key mucosal site, important for targeting local protective responses in vaccines and immunotherapies.