In this study we report that the relative expression of 4-1BB (CD137) and CD28 molecules can differentially be modulated on CD8(+) T cells by combinations of various cytokines and anti-cytokine antibodies. During allostimulation of naive CD8(+) T cells in the presence of IL-2, IFN-gamma, IL-12, and anti-IL-4, they evolved into IL-2, IFN-gamma-producing Tc1 cells and showed inability to upregulate 4-1BB expression but not CD28. On the other hand, the Tc2 cells, generated in the presence of allogeneic APCs, IL-2, IL-10, IL-4, and anti-IFN-gamma, demonstrated intact and elevated 4-1BB and CD28 molecules. Activation of Tc1 and Tc2 cells with anti-CD3 and plate-bound anti-4-1BB and anti-CD28 mAbs revealed differential proliferative and cytokine secretory patterns. The 4-1BB signaling in the context of anti-CD3 as first signal led to the increased secretion of IL-4 by the Tc2 cells and not by Tc1 cells, while CD28 triggering produced IL-4 from Tc2 and IL-2 and IFN-gamma from Tc1 cells. Flow cytometric analysis of cell surface expression on Tc1 and Tc2 cells strengthened our observation that 4-1BB expression but not CD28 is poorly expressed on Tc1 cells. Both of the polarized CD8(+) T cell subsets exhibited comparable cytotoxic abilities and perforin and granzyme expression. The regeneration of 4-1BB expression is possible on Tc1 cells when back cultured in a Tc2 cytokine environment, but its expression could not be significantly altered on the Tc2 population unless IL-12 was included in the system.