Leishmania donovani, a protozoan parasite, inflicts a fatal disease, visceral leishmaniasis. The suppression of antileishmanial T cell responses that characterizes the disease was proposed to be due to deficiency of a T cell growth factor, IL-2. We demonstrate that during the first week after L. donovani infection, IL-2 induces IL-10 that suppresses the host-protective functions of T cells 14 days after infection. The observed suppression is concurrent with increased CD4+ glucocorticoid-induced TNF receptor+ T cells and Foxp3 expression in BALB/c mice, implicating IL-2-dependent regulatory T cell control of antileishmanial immune responses. Indeed, IL-2 and IL-10 neutralization at different time points after the infection demonstrates their distinct roles at the priming and effector phases, respectively, and establishes kinetic modulation of ongoing immune responses as a principle of a rational, phase-specific immunotherapy.