Semliki Forest virus vectors expressing IL-12 (SFV-IL-12) were shown to induce potent antitumor responses against s.c. MC38 colon adenocarcinomas in immunocompetent mice. However, when MC38 tumors were implanted in liver, where colon tumors usually metastasize, SFV-IL-12 efficacy was significantly reduced. We reasoned that characterization of immune responses against intrahepatic tumors in responder and nonresponder animals could provide useful information for designing more potent antitumor strategies. Remarkably, SFV-IL-12 induced a high percentage of circulating tumor-specific CD8 T cells in all treated animals. Depletion studies showed that these cells were essential for SFV-IL-12 antitumor activity. However, in comparison with nonresponders, tumor-specific cells from responder mice acquired an effector-like phenotype significantly earlier, were recruited more efficiently to the liver, and, importantly, persisted for a longer period of time. All treated mice had high levels of functional specific CD8 T cells at 8 d posttreatment reflected by both in vivo killing and IFN-¿-production assays, but responder animals showed a more avid and persistent IFN-¿ response. Interestingly, differences in immune responses between responders and nonresponders seemed to correlate with the immune status of the animals before treatment and were not due to the treatment itself. Mice that rejected tumors were protected against tumor rechallenge, indicating that sustained memory responses are required for an efficacious therapy. Interestingly, tumor-specific CD8 T cells of responder animals showed upregulation of IL-15R¿ expression compared with nonresponders. These results suggest that SFV-IL-12 therapy could benefit from the use of strategies that could either upregulate IL-15R¿ expression or activate this receptor.