Cytomegalovirus is arguable the most immunodominant antigen that is encountered by the human immune system. CMV latency results from chronic immune suppression of viral application and the CD8(+) T cell appears to be the most important effector cell in this regard. The magnitude of the CMV-specific CD8(+) T cell response has been shown in recent years to be exceptionally strong and shows the unusual feature of increasing with age. The specificity of this response is focused on two proteins, namely pp65 and IE-1, although recent work points towards a broader recognition of viral proteins. The phenotype of CMV-specific T cells is heterogeneous but is generally typical of a late differentiation pattern of effector T cell. During immune suppression the CD8(+) T cell response usually increases in magnitude but an impaired CMV-specific immune response is indicative of poor clinical outcome. Advances in immunological techniques have allowed great advances in our understanding of CMV-specific immunity in both health and disease which should assist translation into improved vaccination or immunotherapeutic approaches.