[en] Increased numbers of CD4+ Thy-1- cells have been described in the spleen (SP) of mice with retrovirus-induced immunodeficiency (MAIDS). Since this phenotypic abnormality might have considerable functional importance, the expansion of the CD4+ Thy-1- subset in MAIDS was characterized further. CD4+ Thy-1- and Thy-1+ T-cells from infected mice expressed similar densities of CD3 and TCR alpha/beta. In contrast, the Thy-1- subset was uniformly CD44hi, even early in the disease when part of Thy-1+ cells were still CD44lo. The emergence of CD4+ Thy-1- cells occurred first in SP and lymph nodes and was observed later in thymus. The important fraction of CD4+ cells lacking Thy-1 normally present in Peyer's patches was only weakly modified. Despite the major expansion of the CD4+ Thy-1- phenotype, the proliferating fraction was not higher in this subset than in CD4+ Thy-1+ cells from infected mice. Persistence after hydroxyurea administration was identical in both subsets, indicating similar mean cell lifespans. Taken together, these results show that the major expansion of CD4+ Thy-1- T-cells in MAIDS is not ascribable solely to increased proliferation within this subset. Phenotypic analysis suggests that CD4+ Thy-1- cells result from the differentiation of Thy-1+ cells induced by activation signals related to retroviral infection.