CD4 helper T cells functionally organize the host immune response by elaborating cytokines, often in patterns that have overlapping effects on other cells. Much interest centers on understanding how these stereotyped cytokine patterns become elaborated and what mechanisms underlie the generation of distinct helper T cell subsets. The past two years have seen advances in understanding of additional subsets, including T helper follicular cells and IL-17-producing T helper cells. Progress has also been achieved in resolving some of the crosstalk that regulates effector fate at the level of distinct transcription factors and chromatin reorganization of the cytokine genes, and a crucial role for gene silencing has been exposed. Finally, the role of innate cells in influencing these processes has become increasingly realized.