Staphylococcus aureus is a major bacterial pathogen producing a group of 21 enterotoxins (SEs). These enterotoxins have two separate but related biological activities. They cause gastroenteritis, and they function as superantigens that activate large numbers of T cells. In the current study, we demonstrate that short-term ex vivo exposure of primary naïve CD4+ T-cells to SEA induces differential expression of the T cell surface receptor CD154 in a time- and dose-dependent manner. In addition, we show that SEA induces higher CD154 protein expression and higher splenocyte cell proliferation compared with SEB. We also demonstrate that expression of CD154 can be used for rapid detection of active SEA in milk.