The alloreactive CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) clone 2C was previously shown to recognize complexes made up of the class I MHC (MHC-I) molecule Ld and an octapeptide (LSPFPFDL, termed p2Ca) isolated from tissues of H-2d mice. Because peptide p2Ca has also been found in BALB.B (H-2b) mice, the strain from which clone 2C originated, the question arises as to whether these T cells can recognize peptide p2Ca in association with a self MHC protein of the H-2b haplotype. Here we show that 2C CTL do indeed recognize peptide p2Ca in association with Kb on the surface of H-2b cells or on transfected cells expressing Kb, but that an approximately 1000-fold higher concentration of this peptide is required to sensitize Kb+ than Ld+ target cells for lysis by 2C cells. However, the peptide's binding to Kb was not much weaker than to Ld, with only an approximately 10-fold difference in the respective equilibrium constants. These results predict that the T cell receptor (TcR) of clone 2C has a much lower intrinsic affinity for p2Ca-Kb complexes than for p2Ca-Ld complexes, and they provide some quantitative limits on the requirements for triggering T cell-mediated autoimmune reactivity.