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We have previously described the induction of murine CD8+ major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I-restricted cytotoxic T cells (CTL) recognizing the 20-amino acid repeat region of the human mucin 1 (MUC1) variable number of tandem repeats region (VNTR), a mucin greatly increased in expression in breast cancer and proposed as a target for immunotherapy. In that study, CTL could detect MUC1 peptides associated with the MHC of all nine strains examined, and we now report the different epitopes presented by five different MHC class I molecules. The epitopes were defined in CTL assays using peptide-pulsed phytohemagglutinin blasts or MHC class I-transfected L cells as targets; in addition, peptide binding assays and T cell proliferation studies were performed. Within the 20-amino acid VNTR, nine potential epitopes could be defined. The epitopes for the four MHC class I molecules [Kb (three epitopes), Dd, Ld and Kk] were closely related, all containing the amino acids PDTRPAP. For Db, three epitopes were identified, all containing APGSTAP. Most of the epitopes did not contain a consensus motif for the particular MHC class I allele, and bound with low ‘affinity’, compared with known high-affinity peptides. CD8+ T cell proliferation also occurred to the same MHC class I-presented epitopes. Finally, when conventional anchor residues were introduced into the peptides, peptide binding increased, whereas CTL recognition was either retained (Kb) or lost (Db) depending on the epitope.