Autoimmune T-cell reactivity to myelin components may be implicated in the initiation or maintenance of the inflammation leading to myelin destruction in multiple sclerosis (MS). Myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG), a quantitatively minor myelin protein, is an important candidate autoantigen in MS. We studied T-cell responses to recombinant MOG (extracellular domain, rMOG) and a panel of four peptides within this domain (amino acids 1-22, 34-56, 64-86 and 74-96) in MS patients and healthy controls (NS). Frequency analysis of T cells reactive to rMOG as measured by IFN-gamma ELISPOT did not reveal significant differences between MS patients and controls. MOG-reactive T-cell lines and clones (TCL/TCC) were generated by stimulating PBMC of four MS patients and three healthy subjects with a cocktail of the four MOG peptides. The functional properties of 50 MOG peptide-reactive TCL/TCC obtained were studied. All TCL were TCR alpha beta+CD4+ and 20 TCL showed reactivity to MOG peptides 1-22, 13 to 34-56, 1 to 64-86 and 16 to 74-96. No significant differences in peptide recognition were observed between MS patients and controls. The T-cell receptor (TCR) hypervariable regions of MOG-reactive TCL/TCC showed a heterogeneous usage of various TCR V(-D)-J elements. The data provide no evidence for clonal expansions within the MOG-reactive T-cell repertoire of the two study groups. Intracellular cytokine analysis demonstrated predominantly Th1-TCC (IFN-gamma+/IL-4-) in MS patients, while most MOG-reactive TCC of control subjects had a mixed Th0/Th1 phenotype. Furthermore, the MS-derived MOG-reactive TCC produced increased levels of TNF-alpha upon antigen stimulation as compared to controls. Most of the MS-derived MOG-TCC induced specific cytolysis of autologous MOG-pulsed PBMC (9/11) while none of the MOG-TCC isolated from control subjects showed this cytotoxicity (0/8). In conclusion, although the frequency of anti-MOG T cells was similar in MS patients and controls, our data indicate potential differences in the functional properties of MOG TCL in MS patients versus healthy controls which may relate to their role in the disease process.