Pathogenic mechanisms of T cells in several central nervous system (CNS) disorders are well-established. However, more recent studies have uncovered compelling beneficial roles of T cells in neurological diseases, ranging from tissue protection to regeneration. These divergent functions arise due to the diversity of T cell subsets, particularly CD4+ T cells. Here, we review the beneficial impact of T cell subsets in a range of neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases including multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, stroke, and CNS trauma. Both T cell-secreted mediators and direct cell contact-dependent mechanisms deliver neuroprotective, neuroregenerative and immunomodulatory signals in these settings. Understanding the molecular details of these beneficial T cell mechanisms will provide novel targets for therapeutic exploitation that can be applied to a range of neurological disorders.