Tetrahydrobiopterin (BH(4)) is an essential co-factor for the nitric-oxide (NO) synthases, and in its absence these enzymes produce superoxide (O(2)(·-)) rather than NO. The rate-limiting enzyme for BH(4) production is guanosine triphosphate cyclohydrolase-1 (GTPCH-1). Because endogenously produced NO affects T cell function, we sought to determine whether antigen stimulation affected T cell GTPCH-1 expression and ultimately BH(4) levels. Resting T cells had minimal expression of inducible NOS (NOS2), endothelial NOS (NOS3), and GTPCH-1 protein and nearly undetectable levels of BH(4). Anti-CD3 stimulation of T cells robustly stimulated the coordinated expression of NOS2, NOS3, and GTPCH-1 and markedly increased both GTPCH-1 activity and T cell BH(4) levels. The newly expressed GTPCH-1 was phosphorylated on serine 72 and pharmacological inhibition of casein kinase II reduced GTPCH-1 phosphorylation and blunted the increase in T cell BH(4). Inhibition of GTPCH-1 with diaminohydroxypyrimidine (1 mmol/liter) prevented T cell BH(4) accumulation, reduced NO production, and increased T cell O(2)(·-) production, due to both NOS2 and NOS3 uncoupling. GTPCH-1 inhibition also promoted TH(2) polarization in memory CD4 cells. Ovalbumin immunization of mice transgenic for an ovalbumin receptor (OT-II mice) confirmed a marked increase in T cell BH(4) in vivo. These studies identify a previously unidentified consequence of T cell activation, promoting BH(4) levels, NO production, and modulating T cell cytokine production.