IL-17-producing T lymphocytes have been recently shown to comprise a distinct lineage of proinflammatory T helper cells, termed Th17 cells, that are major contributors to autoimmune disease. We show here that the orphan nuclear receptor RORgammat is the key transcription factor that orchestrates the differentiation of this effector cell lineage. RORgammat induces transcription of the genes encoding IL-17 and the related cytokine IL-17F in naïve CD4(+) T helper cells and is required for their expression in response to IL-6 and TGF-beta, the cytokines known to induce IL-17. Th17 cells are constitutively present throughout the intestinal lamina propria, express RORgammat, and are absent in mice deficient for RORgammat or IL-6. Mice with RORgammat-deficient T cells have attenuated autoimmune disease and lack tissue-infiltrating Th17 cells. Together, these studies suggest that RORgammat is a key regulator of immune homeostasis and highlight its potential as a therapeutic target in inflammatory diseases.