A superantigen designated as Yersinia pseudotuberculosis-derived mitogen (YPM) was purified in an equal manner from both the culture supernatant and cell lysate of a clinical isolate (KUR-1) of Y. pseudotuberculosis serotype 4b. A significant proliferative response of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells to purified YPM was detectable even at a concentration of 1 pg/ml. The N-terminal sequence of YPM which included 23 amino acid residues was determined, by automated Edman degradation, as Thr-Asp-Tyr-Asp-Asn-Thr-Leu-Asn-Ser-Ile-Pro-Ser-Leu-Arg-Ile-Pro-Asn-Il e-Ala-Thr-Tyr-Thr-Gly-. This sequence differed from not only all the, hitherto, reported superantigens but also known proteins. While molecular weights of known bacterial superantigens are more than 22,000, electrospray ionization mass spectrometry showed that the molecular weight of YPM was 14524.4. These results indicate that YPM comprises a novel superantigen with substantial structural differences from other bacterial superantigens produced by Gram-positive cocci.