Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis is the causative agent of Johne disease, a chronic ulcerative intestinal condition in ruminant animals. Owing to the predominance of cellular response in subclinical forms of the infection, identification of M. a. paratuberculosis antigens eliciting host cell-mediated immune (CMI) reaction is crucial for early control of the disease. A 35 kDa protein of M. a. paratuberculosis was studied for its ability to elicit CMI responses using a mouse model. Lymphoproliferation and IFN-gamma response were used to measure the CMI response. Recombinant 35 kDa protein (P35) stimulated proliferation of mouse mononuclear splenocytes sensitized with M. a. paratuberculosis. The P35 elicited increased nitrite production from mononuclear splenocytes from M. a. paratuberculosis-sensitized mice. In addition, RT-PCR-based semiquantitative IFN-gamma measurement showed that stimulation with P35 is associated with significant expression of IFN-gamma mRNA in M. a. paratuberculosis-sensitized mouse splenocytes. The results indicate that the 35 kDa protein of M. a. paratuberculosis is associated with CMI response in the host.