Human melanoma is an immunogenic neoplasm whereby enhancement of specific cell-mediated immunity can alter tumor progression. HLA-A2-restricted CTL have been demonstrated to kill allogeneic HLA-A2-matched melanoma. We investigated the ability of allogeneic melanoma cells sharing HLA-A antigens to sensitize melanoma patients' lymphocytes to induce HLA-A-restricted CTL to autologous melanoma. PBL from melanoma patients were cocultured with autologous melanoma cells in defined "cocktail medium" to generate melanoma-specific HLA-A-restricted CTL lines. CTL generated by sensitization with allogeneic melanoma bearing shared HLA-A2, A11, A24, or "cross-reactive" HLA-A antigens could kill almost as many autologous melanoma cells as CTL sensitized with autologous melanoma. There are HLA-A antigens that are immunogenically cross-reactive because they share determinant epitopes. CTL were not activated NK or LAK cells. The HLA restriction and melanoma cell specificity of the CTL were demonstrated by cold target inhibition with autologous and allogeneic melanoma and B lymphoblasts. Anti-CD3 and anti-HLA AB inhibited CTL killing of melanoma. The CTL were predominantly CD3+CD4+ TCR alpha/beta+. These studies demonstrate that melanomas being shared or cross-reactive HLA-A can be used for in vitro generation of HLA-restricted CTL that recognize melanoma-associated antigens. The findings have very important implications in human tumor immunotherapy.