Primary demyelination in the central nervous system results from damage to the myelin sheath or oligodendroglia and can be produced by a variety of mechanisms, including metabolic disturbances, toxicities, infection, and autoimmunity. The major human demyelinating disease affecting the central nervous system is multiple sclerosis (MS). Although the etiology of MS is not known, existing data indicate that both genetic and environmental factors contribute to pathogenesis. Experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE) is induced by immunization of genetically susceptible animals with myelin proteins. This is mediated by autoimmune T cells. Characterization of MHC restriction, fine specificity of antigen recognition, and T cell receptor (TCR) usage by encephalitogenic T cells has resulted in highly specific immunotherapies. Both HLA and TCR genes have been linked to susceptibility for MS which is widely believed to be mediated by T cells that recognize an as yet unidentified autoantigen. Because of the advances in the understanding and treatment of EAE, recent research in MS has been focused on the characterization of cellular immune responses against myelin components. The results of these studies are reviewed and the potential implications of these findings for the pathogenesis and future therapy of MS are examined.