Cloned cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) specific for lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) were adoptively transferred to syngeneic mice acutely or persistently (carrier mice) infected with LCMV. Although infectious virus was cleared from the spleens during acute LCMV infection begun 24 hr earlier and the spleens remained clear of virus for the 4 days of testing, there was no concomitant reduction of viral titers in lymph nodes. In contrast, adoptive transfer of cloned CTL into animals with persistent rather than acute LCMV infection resulted in deaths of syngeneic but not allogeneic recipients. LCMV-immune spleen cells taken 30 to 50 days after a primary immunization and activated by in vitro stimulation before transfer also caused death of syngeneic carrier mice. However, LCMV-immune spleen cell per se provoked no clinical manifestations when transferred but cleared infectious virus and viral nucleic acid sequences from syngeneic carrier mice. The migration of 51Cr-labeled, LCMV-specific, H-2-restricted cloned CTL was assessed in vivo. The circulation of these CTL clearly differed from that of spleen cells freshly isolated from uninfected mice and from non-LCMV-specific CTL clone. Further, the circulatory pattern of LCMV-specific, H-2-restricted, cloned CTL in carrier mice was markedly different than in uninfected animals; only 7% of the injected cells remained in the lungs of uninfected mice 8 hr after injection, whereas 30% had accumulated in the liver. However, 55% of the cells injected into carrier mice still remained in their lungs 8 to 16 hr later. Hence, LCMV-specific, H-2-restricted, cloned CTL have unique trafficking patterns in the presence of LCMV antigens and immune activities in vivo.