Our recent studies indicate that mice depleted of T cells that bear the alphabeta T-cell receptor (alphabeta T cells) show less inflammation, less physiological dysfunction, and improved survival after cecal ligation and puncture (CLP) compared with control mice. Classic CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells comprise most of the alphabeta T-cell population. We previously showed that CD8(+) T cells, in conjunction with natural killer (NK) cells, participate in CLP-induced inflammation. However, the contribution of CD4(+) T cells to the early inflammatory response caused by CLP is largely undefined. In the present study, we evaluated CLP-induced mortality, bacterial clearance, and inflammation in mice that were depleted of CD4(+) T cells. Compared with control mice, CD4 knockout mice and wild-type mice treated with anti-CD4 did not show significant differences in survival, cytokine production, and systemic bacterial counts. The combined depletion of CD4(+) T and NK cells resulted in improved survival and decreased cytokine production compared with mice possessing a full lymphocyte complement, especially when CD4(+) T and NK cell-deficient mice were treated with imipenem. These improvements were nearly identical to those observed in mice depleted only of NK cells. These studies show that CD4(+) T cells do not seem to play a critical role in facilitating the early inflammatory response caused by CLP.