CD8+ T cells employ granzyme B (GrB) to induce apoptosis in target cells. Increased expression of GrB has been put forward as a diagnostic marker in transplant rejection and viral infection. Three-color flow cytometric analysis revealed that peripheral blood CD8+ T lymphocytosis during primary cytomegalovirus infection after renal transplantation resulted from expansion of a CD8+GrB+CD62L+ T cell subset that was almost absent during stable transplant function or acute rejection. This expansion coincided with a temporary increase in systemic soluble GrB (sGrB) levels. No such increase was observed during stable transplant function or acute rejection. Thus, the primary immune response to cytomegalovirus infection is accompanied by appearance of CD8+GrB+CD62L+ T cells and increased sGrB levels in the peripheral blood compartment. Determination of the latter may provide a novel approach for monitoring viral infections.