This report describes the presence and activity of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25-D3) in experimental bovine tuberculosis. Animals that went on to develop tuberculous lesions exhibited a rapid transient increase in serum 1,25-D3 within the first 2 weeks following infection with Mycobacterium bovis, 1,25-D3-positive mononuclear cells were later identified in all tuberculous granulomas by immunohistochemical staining of postmortem lymph node tissue. These results suggest a role for 1,25-D3 both at the onset of infection and in the development of the granuloma in these infected animals. Using a monoclonal antibody to the vitamin D receptor (VDR) as a VDR agonist, we confirmed that activation of the vitamin D pathway profoundly depresses antigen-specific, but not mitogenic, bovine peripheral blood T-cell responses (proliferation and gamma interferon production). Investigation of the mechanism of this suppression showed that the VDR antibody modified the expression of CD80 by accessory cells, such that a significant positive correlation between T-cell proliferation and accessory cell CD80 emerged.