We have investigated the structural requirements for the induction of cytotoxic T-cell responses (CTL) in vivo after intranasal immunization with an immunodominant CTL epitope from the nucleoprotein of measles virus (MV). For the induction of CTL responses, covalent linkage of the CTL epitope to a helper T-cell epitope was required and the orientation of the epitopes influenced the immunogenicity of the CTL epitope. The presence of two copies as compared with one copy of a T-helper epitope, rendered the CTL epitope more immunogenic and resulted in the in vivo induction of MV-specific CTLs without the need for an adjuvant. The role of CTL responses to this epitope in protection after intranasal administration was evaluated in a mouse model against challenge with a neuroadapted strain of MV. Although a decreased mortality in the peptide immunized compared with that in unimmunized mice was observed, the protection achieved was not significant. These findings highlight the importance of the rational design of synthetic immunogens for the induction of CTL responses and the potential of the intranasal route for immunization.