Streptococcal mitogenic exotoxin Z-2 (SMEZ-2) is a streptococcal superantigen that primarily stimulates human T cells bearing Vβ8 and mouse T cells bearing Vβ11. Mutagenesis of T cell receptor (TCR)-binding residues (W75L, K182Q, D42C) produced a mutant called M1 that was >10(5)-fold less active toward human peripheral blood lymphocytes and splenocytes from transgenic mice that express human CD4 and either human HLA-DR3-DQ2 or HLA-DR4-DQ8. Similarly, cytokine production in response to M1 in lymphocyte culture was rendered undetectable, and no change in the frequency of Vβ11-bearing T cells in mice receiving M1 was observed. M1 toxoid was tested as a potential vaccine conjugate. Vaccination with 1 to 10 μg M1 conjugated to ovalbumin (M1-ovalbumin) resulted in more rapid and quantitatively higher levels of anti-ovalbumin IgG, with endpoint titers being 1,000- to 10,000-fold greater than those in animals immunized with unconjugated ovalbumin. Substantially higher levels of anti-ovalbumin IgG were observed in mice transgenic for human major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II. Substitution of M1 with an MHC class II binding mutant (DM) eliminated enhanced immunity, suggesting that M1 enhanced the delivery of antigen via MHC class II-positive antigen-presenting cells that predominate within lymphoid tissue. Immunization of animals with a conjugate consisting of M1 and ovalbumin peptide from positions 323 to 339 generated levels of anti-peptide IgG 100-fold higher than those in animals immunized with peptide alone. Coupling of a TCR-defective superantigen toxoid presents a new strategy for conjugate vaccines with the additional benefit of targeted delivery to MHC class II-bearing cells.