The Toll-like receptors (TLR) have been advocated as attractive therapeutic targets because TLR signaling plays dual roles in initiating adaptive immune responses and perpetuating inflammation. Paradoxically, repeated stimulation of bone marrow mononuclear cells with a synthetic TLR7 ligand 9-benzyl-8-hydroxy-2-(2-methoxyethoxy) adenine (called 1V136) leads to subsequent TLR hyporesponsiveness. Further studies on the mechanism of action of this pharmacologic agent demonstrated that the TLR7 ligand treatment depressed dendritic cell activation, but did not directly affect T cell function. To verify this mechanism, we utilized experimental allergic encephalitis (EAE) as an in vivo T cell dependent autoimmune model. Drug treated SJL/J mice immunized with proteolipid protein (PLP)(139-151) peptide had attenuated disease severity, reduced accumulation of mononuclear cells in the central nervous system (CNS), and limited demyelination, without any apparent systemic toxicity. Splenic T cells from treated mice produced less cytokines upon antigenic rechallenge. In the spinal cords of 1V136-treated EAE mice, the expression of chemoattractants was also reduced, suggesting innate immune cell hyposensitization in the CNS. Indeed, systemic 1V136 did penetrate the CNS. These experiments indicated that repeated doses of a TLR7 ligand may desensitize dendritic cells in lymphoid organs, leading to diminished T cell responses. This treatment strategy might be a new modality to treat T cell mediated autoimmune diseases.