BK virus (BKV) infections after renal transplantation are increasingly recognized. Development of immune monitoring strategies against BKV requires definition of antigenic epitopes. Hence, T cells from HLA-A02-positive healthy subjects and kidney transplant recipients were stimulated by BKV lysate pulsed on mature autologous dendritic cells and screened against four different T antigen peptides or against BKV lysate. IFN-gamma production was measured by ELISPOT assays. The peptide BKV362-371 (MLTERFNHIL) was naturally processed and recognized by five of six healthy subjects (39 +/- 11 IFN-gamma spots/100,000 cells) and five of seven kidney transplant recipients (21 +/- 12 IFN-gamma spots). Less frequent and weaker CD8+ T-cell responses were detected against three other peptides. Thus, BKV large T antigen is a target for CD8+ T-cell immunity. T-antigen-specific T-cytotoxic cells circulate in healthy blood donors, implying that transient expression of T antigen presumably occurs at sites of viral latency and helps maintain a constant pool of circulating CD8+ T memory cells.