Triggering of 4-1BB, a member of the TNFR family, through in vivo administration of agonistic anti-4-1BB Ab delivers a powerful costimulatory signal to CTL. We found this signal to effectively replace the need for CD4+ T cell help in the cross-priming of tumor-specific CTL immunity. Furthermore, 4-1BB Ab can convert an otherwise tolerogenic peptide vaccine into a formulation capable of efficient CTL priming. Initial activation of naive CTL can occur in the absence of 4-1BB costimulation, but this signal permits increased survival of Ag-stimulated CTL. Because naive CTL do not express 4-1BB at their surface, susceptibility to 4-1BB triggering depends on prior up-regulation of this receptor. We show that this requires both stimulation of the TCR and CD28-dependent costimulation. Accordingly, blockade of the CD28-costimulatory pathway abrogates the capacity of agonistic anti-4-1BB Ab to trigger Th-independent CTL immunity. In conclusion, our data reveal that the 4-1BB-mediated survival signal is positioned downstream of Ag-specific TCR triggering and CD28-dependent costimulation of naive CTL. The powerful effects of 4-1BB triggering on the induction, amplification, and persistence of CTL responses provide a novel strategy for increasing the potency of vaccines against cancers.