Intradermal administration of short overlapping peptides derived from chain 1 of the cat allergen Fel d 1 (FC1P) that did not cross-link IgE, elicited isolated late asthmatic reactions with no visible early or late cutaneous response in 9/40 cat-allergic asthmatics. Four of the nine were human histocompatibility leukocyte antigen DR13-positive, as compared with only 1/31 nonreactors. The other five reactors expressed either DR1 or DR4. To confirm major histocompatibility complex restriction, fibroblast cell lines transfected with HLA-DR molecules were used to present FC1Ps to cat allergen-specific T cell lines derived from subjects before peptide injection. FC1P3 (peptide 28-44 of Fel d 1 chain 1) was recognized in the context of DR13 alleles (DRB1*1301, 1302) and induced specific T cell proliferation and IL-5 production. T cells from a DR1(+) responder proliferated and produced IL-5 in the presence of FC1P3 and DR1 (DRB1*0101) fibroblast cell lines, whereas T cells from a DR4(+) subject recognized FC1P2 (peptide 22-37) when presented by DRB1*0405. We conclude that short, allergen-derived peptides can directly initiate a major histocompatibility complex-restricted, T cell-dependent late asthmatic reaction, without the requirement for an early IgE/mast cell-dependent response, in sensitized asthmatic subjects.