The current literature on the role of interleukin (IL)-2 in memory CD8+ T-cell differentiation indicates a significant contribution of IL-2 during primary and also secondary expansion of CD8+ T cells. IL-2 seems to be responsible for optimal expansion and generation of effector functions following primary antigenic challenge. As the magnitude of T-cell expansion determines the numbers of memory CD8+ T cells surviving after pathogen elimination, these event influence memory cell generation. Moreover, during the contraction phase of an immune respons where most antigen-specific CD8+ T cells disappear by apoptosis, IL-2 signals are able to rescu CD8+ T cells from cell death and provide a durable increase in memory CD8+ T-cell counts. At the memory stage, CD8+ T-cell frequencies can be boosted by administration of exogenous IL-2 Significantly, only CD8+ T cells that have received IL-2 signals during initial priming are able t mediate efficient secondary expansion following renewed antigenic challenge. Thus, IL-2 signals during different phases of an immune response are key in optimizing CD8+ T-cell functions, thereby affecting both primary and secondary responses of these T cells.