The discovery of tumor-associated antigens (TAA) in certain human malignancies has prompted renewed efforts to develop antigen-specific immunotherapy of cancer. However, most TAA described thus far are expressed in one or a few tumor types, and, among patients with these types of tumors, TAA expression is not universal. Here, we characterize the telomerase catalytic subunit (hTERT) as a widely expressed TAA capable of triggering antitumor cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) responses. More than 85% of human cancers exhibit strong telomerase activity, but normal adult tissues, with few exceptions, do not. In a human system, CD8+ CTL specific for an hTERT peptide and restricted to MHC HLA-A2 lysed hTERT+ tumors from multiple histologies. These findings identify hTERT as a potentially important and widely applicable target for anticancer immunotherapeutic strategies.