Attenuated strains of Salmonella have been used as vaccines to deliver heterologous antigens mainly to generate a humoral immune response. However, little is known about their ability to induce a cell-mediated immune response to the T-cell epitopes of another infectious agent or how optimally to deliver these epitopes to the host immune system. In order to study this question, a well defined MHC class II-restricted epitope (residues 88-103) from moth cytochrome C (MCC) was inserted into the central hypervariable domain of the flagellin of an attenuated strain of Salmonella dublin. The resulting flagellin was exported to the bacterial surface and polymerized into flagellar filaments that contained multiple copies of the MCC epitope. When flanked by Lys-Lys cathepsin B cleavage sites to facilitate its proteolytic release within the endosomal compartment of antigen-presenting cells, the MCC-chimeric flagellin epitope was efficiently processed in vitro by mouse peritoneal macrophages and presented to 2B4 T-hybridoma cells (specific for the MCC epitope 88-103). Stable expression of the epitope and a higher immune response was obtained in H-2k mice by integrating the chimeric flagellin gene into the chromosome of the vaccine strain. Bacteria with MCC-chimeric flagellins that were expressed from a stable chromosomal locus and flanked by cathepsin B cleavage sites were cleared more rapidly from the livers and spleens of transgenic mice with T-cell receptor (TCR) alpha and beta chains specific for the MCC epitope than were bacteria lacking the epitope. Antigen processing and presentation of class II-restricted epitopes expressed as chimeric proteins by attenuated bacterial vaccine vectors may be facilitated by the presence of endosomal protease cleavage sites on each side of the epitope and by chromosomal integration of the coding sequence.