Multiple sclerosis is thought to be an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system mediated by T cells specific for a myelin antigen. Myelin basic protein has been studied as a potential autoantigen in the disease because of its role as an encephalitogen in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis and post-viral encephalomyelitis and because of the presence in the blood of multiple sclerosis patients of in vivo-activated T cells reactive to myelin basic protein. Immune involvement in multiple sclerosis has been further suggested by the association with the major histocompatibility complex class II phenotype DR2, DQw1. To define the T-cell specificity toward myelin basic protein, 15,824 short-term T-cell lines were established from multiple sclerosis subjects, subjects with other neurological diseases, and normal controls. Here we report a higher frequency of T-cell lines reactive with a DR2-associated region of myelin basic protein between residues 84-102 in patients with multiple sclerosis compared with controls. A second region, identified between residues 143-168, was recognized equally in multiple sclerosis patients and controls and was associated with the DRw11 phenotype. These DR2 and DRw11 associations were also observed among T-cell lines generated from family members of a multiple sclerosis patient. The immunodominant 84-102 peptide from myelin basic protein was both DR2- and DQw1-restricted among different T-cell lines. These results raise the possibility that this immunodominant region may be encephalitogenic in some DR2+ individuals.