IFNs protect from virus infection by inducing an antiviral state and by modulating the immune response. Using mice deficient in multiple aspects of IFN signaling, we found that type I and type II IFN play distinct although complementing roles in the resolution of influenza vital disease. Both types of IFN influenced the profile of cytokines produced by T lymphocytes, with a significant bias toward Th2 differentiation occurring in the absence of responsiveness to either IFN. However, although a Th1 bias produced through inhibition of Th2 differentiation by IFN-γ was not required to resolve infection, loss of type I IFN responsiveness led to exacerbated disease pathology characterized by granulocytic pulmonary inflammatory infiltrates. Responsiveness to type I IFN did not influence the generation of virus- specific cytotoxic lymphocytes or the rate of vital clearance, but induction of IL-10 and IL-15 in infected lungs through a type I IFN-dependent pathway correlated with a protective response to virus. Combined loss of both IFN pathways led to a severely polarized proinflammatory immune response and exacerbated disease. These results reveal an unexpected role for type I IFN in coordinating the host response to vital infection and controlling inflammation in the absence of a direct effect on virus replication.