Currently there are few reliable cell surface markers that can clearly discriminate effector from memory T cells. To determine if there are changes in O-glycosylation between these two cell types, we analyzed virus-specific CD8 T cells at various time points after lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus infection of mice. Antigen-specific CD8 T cells were identified using major histocompatibility complex class I tetramers, and glycosylation changes were monitored with a monoclonal antibody (1B11) that recognizes O-glycans on mucin-type glycoproteins. We observed a striking upregulation of a specific cell surface O-glycan epitope on virus-specific CD8 T cells during the effector phase of the primary cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) response. This upregulation showed a strong correlation with the acquisition of effector function and was downregulated on memory CD8 T cells. Upon reinfection, there was again increased expression of this specific O-glycan epitope on secondary CTL effectors, followed once more by decreased expression on memory cells. Thus, this study identifies a new cell surface marker to distinguish between effector and memory CD8 T cells. This marker can be used to isolate pure populations of effector CTLs and also to determine the proportion of memory CD8 T cells that are recruited into the secondary response upon reencounter with antigen. This latter information will be of value in optimizing immunization strategies for boosting CD8 T cell responses.