The CD28 family member inducible costimulator protein (ICOS) has an important role in T cell differentiation and Ig class switching. To investigate the role of ICOS in vivo, ICOS-/- mice were infected s.c. with Leishmania mexicana. While wild-type mice developed large, cutaneous lesions, the growth of lesions and tissue histopathology was significantly delayed in ICOS-/- mice. ICOS-/- mice exhibited marked decreases in both Th1 and Th2 cytokine production and profound defects in L. mexicana-specific Ig isotype class switching to IgG1 and IgG2a and reduced total IgE levels. Our findings indicate that ICOS is a key regulator of both Th1 and Th2 responses and has a role in controlling cutaneous L. mexicana infection.