In allergic inflammations of the skin, activation of CD4+ T cells was demonstrated to play an important role; however, a minor role for CD8+ T cells is implied. In the present study, we compared cutaneous lymphocyte-associated Ag (CLA)-expressing CD4+ and CD8+ subsets, which were isolated from peripheral blood and lesional skin biopsies in atopic dermatitis (AD) patients. We demonstrated that CD8+CLA+ T cells proliferate in response to superantigen and are as potent as CD4+CLA+ T cells in IgE induction and support of eosinophil survival. In atopic skin inflammation, the existence of high numbers of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells was demonstrated by immunohistochemistry and by culturing T cells from skin biopsies. In peripheral blood, both CD4+ and CD8+ subsets of CLA+CD45RO+ T cells were in an activated state in AD. The in vivo-activated CLA+ T cells of both subsets spontaneously released an IL-5- and IL-13-dominated Th2 type cytokine pattern. This was confirmed by intracytoplasmic cytokine staining immediately after isolation of the cells from peripheral blood. In consequence, both CD4+ and CD8+, CLA+ memory/effector T cells induced IgE production by B cells mainly by IL-13, and enhanced eosinophil survival in vitro by delaying eosinophil apoptosis, mainly by IL-5. These results indicate that in addition to the CD4+ subset, the CD8+CLA+ memory/effector T cells are capable of responding to superantigenic stimulation and play an important role in the pathogenesis of AD.