CD1d-deficient mice have normal numbers of T lymphocytes and natural killer cells but lack Valpha14(+) natural killer T cells. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) immunopathogenesis was evaluated in 129xC57BL/6, C57BL/6, and BALB/c CD1d(-/-) mice. CD8(+) T lymphocytes were reduced in CD1d(-/-) mice of all strains, as shown by cell surface staining and major histocompatibility complex class I tetramer analysis, and resulted in strain-specific alterations in illness, viral clearance, and gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) production. Transient activation of NK T cells in CD1d(+/+) mice by alpha-GalCer resulted in reduced illness and delayed viral clearance. These data suggest that early IFN-gamma production and efficient induction of CD8(+)-T-cell responses during primary RSV infection require CD1d-dependent events. We also tested the ability of alpha-GalCer as an adjuvant to modulate the type 2 immune responses induced by RSV glycoprotein G or formalin-inactivated RSV immunization. However, immunized CD1-deficient or alpha-GalCer-treated wild-type mice did not exhibit diminished disease following RSV challenge. Rather, some disease parameters, including cytokine production, eosinophilia, and viral clearance, were increased. These findings indicate that CD1d-dependent NK T cells play a role in expansion of CD8(+) T cells and amplification of antiviral responses to RSV.