Imatinib mesylate (IM) is effective at inducing complete cytogenetic remission in patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia. Because its influence on CD8 T cell responsiveness in vivo is unknown, we investigated the effects of IM by analyzing the response of OT-1 CD8 T cells to Listeria monocytogenes (LM) that express the cognate epitope OVA257-264 (LM-OVA). In vitro, IM had no effect on Ag-specific expansion, cell division, cell cycle progression, or IFN-γ expression in naive or memory OT-1 T cells. However, IM induced apoptosis of naive and memory OT-1 T cells at doses of >5 μM. At 15 μM IM, OT-1 T cells did not survive in in vitro cultures. The primary response of OT-1 T cells in vivo to LM-OVA infection was unaltered. In contrast, continuous IM treatment resulted in a diminished memory OT-1 response. The expression of IL-7Rα, a receptor required for memory cell survival, was lower (on OT-1 cells) in animals receiving IM. These results indicate that IM treatment affects the ability of the CD8 memory pool to respond to Ag and has the potential to increase susceptibility to infection.