Previous studies have provided evidence that myelin basic protein (MBP)-specific rat T cells acquire antigen via transfer of preformed peptide/MHC class II complexes from splenic antigen-presenting cells (APC). The purpose of the present study was to determine how T cells acquire peptide/MHC class II complexes from APC in vitro. Our results show that a MHC class II+ T cell line, R1-trans, released MHC class II-bearing vesicles that directly stimulated MBP-specific CD4+ T cells. Vesicles expressing complexes of MHC class II and MBP were also specifically cytotoxic to MBP-specific T cells. Surviving T cells acquired MHC class II/antigen complexes from these vesicles by a mechanism that did not require protein synthesis but depended on specific TCR interactions with peptide/self MHC complexes. Furthermore, MBP/MHC class II-bearing vesicles enabled T cells to present MBP to other T cell responders. These studies provide evidence that APC release vesicles expressing preformed peptide/MHC class II complexes that interact with clonotypic TCR, allowing MHC class II acquisition by T cells. Vesicular transport of antigen/MHC class II complexes from professional APC to T cells may represent an important mechanism of communication among cells of the immune system.