Background: Virus infections are the major cause of asthma exacerbations. CD8+ T cells have an important role in antiviral immune responses and animal studies suggest a role for CD8+ T cells in the pathogenesis of virus-induced asthma exacerbations. We have previously shown that the presence of IL-4 during stimulation increases the frequency of IL-5-positive cells and CD30 surface staining in CD8+ T cells from healthy, normal subjects. In this study, we investigated whether excess IL-4 during repeated TCR/CD3 stimulation of CD8+ T cells from atopic asthmatic subjects alters the balance of type 1/type 2 cytokine production in favour of the latter. Methods: Peripheral blood CD8+ T cells from mild atopic asthmatic subjects were stimulated in vitro with anti-CD3 and IL-2 ± excess IL-4 and the expression of activation and adhesion molecules and type 1 and type 2 cytokine production were assessed. Results: Surface expression of very late antigen-4 [VLA-4] and LFA-1 was decreased and the production of the type 2 cytokines IL-5 and IL-13 was augmented by the presence of IL-4 during stimulation of CD8+ T cells from mild atopic asthmatics. Conclusion: These data suggest that during a respiratory virus infection activated CD8+ T cells from asthmatic subjects may produce excess type 2 cytokines and may contribute to asthma exacerbation by augmenting allergic inflammation.