A costimulatory signal in addition to an Ag-specific stimulus is required for optimal activation of T lymphocytes. CD28, the primary positive costimulatory receptor on T cells, has two identified ligands, B7-1 and B7-2. Whether B7-1 and B7-2 have identical, overlapping, or distinct functions remains unresolved. In this study, we show that mice lacking B7-2 were unable to generate CTL responses following immunization with a plasmid DNA vaccine. The ability of these B7-2-deficient mice to generate CTL responses following plasmid gp120 DNA vaccination was fully reconstituted by coadministering either a plasmid expressing B7-2 or B7-1. Moreover, the ability to generate CTL responses following plasmid DNA vaccination in mice lacking both B7-1 and B7-2 could be reconstituted by administering either plasmid B7-1 or plasmid B7-2 with the vaccine construct. These data demonstrate that either B7-1 or B7-2 administered concurrently with a plasmid DNA vaccine can fully costimulate vaccine-elicited CTL responses. Functional differences between B7-1 and B7-2 observed in vivo therefore may not reflect inherent differences in the interactions of CD28 with these ligands.