We report evidence that a major histocompatibility complex-encoded nonclassic class I molecule presents a foreign peptide to cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) during an infection. Mice immunized with virulent Listeria monocytogenes generate CD8+ CTL with alpha beta receptors specific for a bacterial peptide presented by a conserved class I molecule encoded in the M region of the major histocompatibility complex. The Listeria peptide is digested by carboxypeptidase Y but resists aminopeptidase M, and only peptides with N-formyl methionine competitively block its presentation to CTL. Transfection with the H-2M3d gene enables a negative (H-2w17) cell line to present the bacterial peptide. One function, therefore, of H-2M3 is to present bacterial peptides to CTL during infection.