ABSTRACT Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection induces a T cell response that most likely contributes to virus control in COVID-19 patients but may also induce immunopathology. Until now, the cytotoxic T cell response has not been very well characterized in COVID-19 patients. Here, we analyzed the differentiation and cytotoxic profile of T cells in 30 cases of mild COVID-19 during acute infection. SARS-CoV-2 infection induced a cytotoxic response of CD8+ T cells, but not CD4+ T cells, characterized by the simultaneous production of granzyme A and B as well as perforin within different effector CD8+ T cell subsets. PD-1-expressing CD8+ T cells also produced cytotoxic molecules during acute infection, indicating that they were not functionally exhausted.