GATA-3 controls T helper type 2 (TH2) differentiation. However, whether GATA-3 regulates the function of mature T cells beyond TH2 determination remains poorly understood. We found that signaling via the T cell antigen receptor (TCR) and cytokine stimulation promoted GATA-3 expression in CD8+ T cells, which controlled cell proliferation. Although GATA-3-deficient CD8+ T cells were generated, their peripheral maintenance was impaired, with lower expression of the receptor for interleukin 7 (IL-7R). GATA-3-deficient T cells had defective responses to viral infection and alloantigen. The proto-oncoprotein c-Myc was a critical target of GATA-3 in promoting T cell proliferation. Our study thus demonstrates an essential role for GATA-3 in controlling the maintenance and proliferation of T cells and provides insight into immunoregulation.