CTL play a pivotal role in the immune response during viral infections. In this study, the HLA class II restricted T(H) requirement for optimal in vivo induction of HLA class I restricted CTL responses has been investigated. Towards this goal, transgenic mice expressing both HLA class I (A*0201 or A2.1) and class II (DRB1*0101 or DR1) molecules have been derived. Immunization of these mice with an HLA A*0201-restricted and CMV-specific CTL epitope (pp65(495-503)), and either of three different tetanus toxin-derived MHC class II-binding T(H) epitopes, resulted in a vigorous CTL response. CTL specific for the pp65(495-503) epitope were dramatically enhanced in mice expressing both the HLA-DR1 and HLA-A*0201 transgenes. Notably, preinjection of three TT peptides (TT(639-652), TT(830-843), and TT(947-967)) increased the capability of HLA A*0201/DR1 Tg mice to respond to subsequent immunization with the T(H) + CTL peptide mixture. These results indicate that the use of HLA A*0201/DR1 Tg mice constitute a versatile model system (in lieu of immunizing humans) for the study of both HLA class I and class II restricted T-cell responses. These studies provide a rational model for the design and assessment of new minimal-epitope vaccines based on their in vivo induction of a pathogen-specific CTL response.