MUC1 mucin peptides stimulated cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) from humans with adenocarcinomas. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells, tumor-draining lymph node cells, or tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes were stimulated using mono-nuclear cells from humans with adenocarcinomas of breast or ovary, respectively, using (a) a native MUC1 mucin tandem repeat peptide of 20 amino acids (MUC1-mtr1) plus recombinant human interleukin-2 (IL-2), (b) the mutated (T3N) MUC1-mtr1 plus IL-2, or (c) immobilized anti-CD3 plus IL-2, or (d) IL-2 alone. The CTL stimulated by each of these four conditions were predominately CD4+. However, the CTL stimulated by either the native MUC1-mtr1 or (T3N) MUC1-mtr1 showed 5-10 times greater cytotoxicity of a breast cancer cell line that expresses MUC1 compared to CTL stimulated by either anti-CD3 + IL-2 or IL-2 alone. Each incubation condition generated CTL with different variable beta gene families of T-cell receptors, implying an oligoclonal expansion of a limited CTL repertoire for each. Thus, peptide-stimulated T cells showed expression of cytotoxic cells, which was not induced by nonspecific (anti-CD3 or IL-2) stimulation.