Human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) is a causative agent of adult T-cell leukemia, and it immortalizes and transforms human T cells in both an interleukin (IL)-2-dependent and -independent manner. HTLV-1 encodes Tax, which plays crucial roles in HTLV-1-mediated immortalization and transformation of human T cells. A previous study showed that Tax can transform a mouse T-cell line, CTLL-2, from having IL-2-dependent growth to IL-2-independent growth. Given that the Akt/mTOR pathway is essential for IL-2-induced cell growth in T cells, we examined whether the Akt/mTOR pathway is involved in Tax-induced transformation to IL-2-independent growth. The stable and transient expression of Tax in CTLL-2 induced the phosphorylation of p70S6 kinase and ribosomal protein S6, downstream targets of the mTOR kinase, whereas that of Akt was only minimally induced. Studies with Tax mutants indicated that the activation of mTOR by Tax was correlated with the transformation of CTLL-2 cells to IL-2-independent growth. Rapamycin, an inhibitor of mTOR kinase, reduced the growth of Tax-transformed CTLL-2 cells. Moreover, the transduction of a constitutively active form of Akt in the CTLL-2 cells also induced IL-2-independent growth. Like CTLL-2/Tax, constitutive phosphorylation of p70S6 kinase was detected in the absence of IL-2 in all of the HTLV-1-infected human T-cell lines. These results suggest that Tax activates the mTOR pathway in T cells, and that this activation plays a crucial role in the growth of HTLV-1-infected T cells when a limited amount of IL-2 is available. (Cancer Sci 2012; 103: 369–374)