It has been postulated that systemic cell-mediated immunity (CMI) is an important host defense mechanism against Candida infections of the vagina. However, in an estrogen-dependent murine model of experimental vaginal candidiasis, we recently showed that systemic Candida-specific Th1-type CMI induced by immunization with Candida culture filtrate antigen had no effect on vaginal Candida population levels during the course of a vaginal infection. In the present study, mice given a second vaginal inoculation in the presence of peripheral Candida-specific Th1-type CMI induced by prior vaginal infection had anamnestic-type increased delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) responses, concomitant with significantly fewer Candida organisms in the vagina than in primary-infected mice. In addition, organisms in secondary-infected mice were fragmented and superficial penetration into the epithelium was reduced. The systemic presence of Candida-specific T suppressor (Ts) cells that significantly suppressed the infection-derived anamnestic DTH reactivity did not abrogate the protective effect in the vagina. Additional experiments showed that vaginally immunized mice were not protected from gastrointestinal or systemic candidiasis and, in contrast to mice with a second vaginal infection, did not demonstrate anamnestic DTH reactivity. These results suggest that a moderate level of local protection against a Candida vaginal infection can be achieved by vaginal immunization but that the protective role of acquired peripheral Candida-specific Th1-type reactivity at the vaginal mucosa appears to be limited.