Pulmonary tissue damage resulting from influenza virus infection is caused by both the cytolytic activity of the virus and the host immune response. Immune-mediated injury results from T cell-mediated destruction of virus-infected cells and by release of cytokines and chemokines that attract polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PML) and macrophages to the infected site. The cytokines/chemokines potentiate dendritic cell (DC) activation and T cell expansion, which further enhances local damage. Here we report that immune modulation by local administration to the respiratory tract of sphingosine analog AAL-R significantly dampens the release of cytokines and chemokines while maintaining protective neutralizing antibody and cytotoxic T cell responses. As a result there was a marked reduction of infiltrating PML and macrophages into the lung and resultant pulmonary tissue injury. DC maturation was suppressed, which limited proliferation of specific antiviral T cells in the lung and draining lymph nodes. Further, AAL-R was effective in controlling CD8(+) T cell accumulation in the lungs even when given 4 days after initiation of influenza virus infection. These data indicate that sphingosine analogs display useful potential for controlling the immunopathology caused by influenza virus.