Résumé : Fetal/neonatal immune responses generally are considered to be immature and weaker than that of adults. We have studied the cord-blood T cells of newborns congenitally infected with Trypanosoma cruzi, the protozoan agent of Chagas disease. Our data demonstrate a predominant activation of CD8 T cells expressing activation markers and armed to mediate effector functions. The analysis of the T-cell receptor beta chain variable repertoire shows the oligoclonal expansion of these T lymphocytes, indicating that activation was driven by parasite antigens. Indeed, we have detected parasite-specific CD8 T cells secreting interferon-gamma after coincubation with live T cruzi. This response is enhanced in the presence of recombinant interleukin-15, which limits the T-cell spontaneous apoptosis. These findings point out that the fetal immune system is more competent than previously appreciated, since fetuses exposed to live pathogens are able to develop an adultlike immune CD8 T-cell response.