Infiltration of the central nervous system (CNS) by CD4+ Th1 cells precedes onset and relapses of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). We reported that (B6 × SJL) F1 (H-2b/s) mice with severe relapsing-remitting disease had extensive infiltration by CD4+ T cells compared to that in C57BL/6 (B6) (H-2b) mice, which developed mild low-relapsing disease in response to myelin oligodendrocyte peptide 35–55 (MOG35–55). This observation led us to search for mechanisms that specifically regulate trafficking of CD4+ cells in relapsing H-2b/s mice. We show that the CD4+ cell chemoattractant cytokine interleukin (IL)-16 has an important role in regulation of relapsing EAE induced by MOG35–55 in the (B6 × SJL) F1 (H-2b/s) mice. We found production of IL-16 in the CNS of mice with EAE. IL-16 levels in the CNS correlated well with the extent of CD4+ T-cell and B-cell infiltration during acute and relapsing disease. Infiltrating CD4+ T cells, B cells, and to a lesser extent CD8+ T cells all contained IL-16 immunoreactivity. Treatment with neutralizing anti-IL-16 antibody successfully reversed paralysis and ameliorated relapsing disease. In treated mice, diminished infiltration by CD4+ T cells, less demyelination, and more sparing of axons was observed. Taken together, our results show an important role for IL-16 in regulation of relapsing EAE. We describe a novel therapeutic approach to specifically impede CD4+ T cell chemoattraction in EAE based on IL-16 neutralization. Our findings have high relevance for the development of new therapies for relapsing EAE and potentially MS. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.