Immune responses may be qualitatively distinct depending on whether Th1 or Th2 cells predominate at the site of Ag exposure. T cell subset-specific expression of ligands for vascular selectins may underlie the distinct patterns of recruitment of Th1 or Th2 cells to peripheral inflammatory sites. Here we examine the regulation of selectin ligand expression during murine T helper cell differentiation. Large numbers of Th1 cells interacted with E- and P-selectin under defined flow conditions, while few Th2 and no naive T cells interacted. Th1 cells also expressed more fucosyltransferase VII mRNA than naive or Th2 cells. IL-12 induced expression of P-selectin ligands on Ag-activated naive T cells, even in the presence of IL-4, and on established Th2 cells restimulated in the presence of IL-12 and IFN-gamma. In contrast, Ag stimulation alone induced only E-selectin ligand. Interestingly, restimulation of established Th2 cells in the presence of IL-12 and IFN-gamma induced expression of P-selectin ligands but not E-selectin ligands; IFN-gamma alone did not enhance expression of either selectin ligand. In summary, functional P- and E-selectin ligands are expressed on most Th1 cells, few Th2 cells, but not naive T cells. Furthermore, selectin ligand expression is regulated by the cytokine milieu during T cell differentiation. IL-12 induces P-selectin ligand, while IL-4 plays a dominant role in down-regulating E-selectin ligand.