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The role of systemic cell-mediated immunity (CMI) as a host defense mechanism in the vagina is poorly understood. Using a murine pseudoestrus model of experimental vaginal candidiasis, we previously found that animals given a vaginal inoculum of viable Candida albicans blastoconidia acquired a persistent vaginal infection and developed Candida-specific delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) responses. The present study was designed to characterize the peripheral CMI reactivity generated from the vaginal infection in mice and to determine whether pseudoestrus is a prerequisite for the induction of peripheral CMI reactivity. Mice treated or not treated with estrogen and given a vaginal inoculum of C. albicans blastoconidia were examined for 4 weeks for their vaginal Candida burden and peripheral CMI reactivity, including DTH responsiveness and in vitro Th1 (interleukin-2 [IL-2], gamma interferon [IFN-gamma]/Th2 (IL-4, IL-10)-type lymphokine production in response to Candida antigens. Results showed that although mice not treated with estrogen before being given a vaginal inoculum of C. albicans blastoconidia developed only a short-lived vaginal infection and harbored significantly fewer Candida CFU in the vagina compared with those given estrogen and then infected; DTH reactivity was equivalent in both groups. In vitro measurement of CMI reactivity further showed that lymph node cells from both estrogen- and non-estrogen-treated infected mice produced elevated levels of IL-2 and IFN-gamma in response to Candida antigens during the 4 weeks after vaginal inoculation. In contrast, lymph node cells from the same vaginally infected mice showed no IL-10 production and only small elevations of IL-4 during week 4 of infection. These results suggest that mice with experimental vaginal candidiasis develop predominantly Th1-type Candida-specific peripheral CMI reactivity and that similar patterns of Th1-type reactivity occur in mice regardless of the persistence of infection and the estrogen status of the infected mice.