The binding of 303 8-mer to 11-mer peptides carrying the anchor residues at P2 and the C-terminus to HLA-B*5101 molecules was examined by a stabilization assay in which peptides were incubated with RMA-S-B*5101 cells at 26 degrees C for 3 h. Analysis of the binding of these peptides to HLA-B*5101 molecules showed that Pro and Ala at P2, and Ile, Val, and Leu at the C-terminus functioned as anchor residues, while Gly at P2 and Met at the C-terminus were weak anchors. Pro was a stronger anchor residue than Ala at P2, while Ile was the strongest anchor at the C-terminus. Among 8-mer to 11-mer peptides, the 9-mer peptides showed the strongest binding to HLA-B*5101 molecules. This is in contrast to our recent findings that 10-mer and 11-mer peptides bind to HLA-B*3501 molecules as effectively as 9-mer peptides. Since both HLA class I molecules have the same B-pocket and the binding peptides carry the same anchor residues, it is assumed that the structure of the F-pocket may restrict the length of binding peptides. The ability of HLA-B*5101 binding peptides to stabilize the HLA-B*5101 molecules was markedly lower than that of HLA-B*3501 binding peptides to stabilize the HLA-B*3501 molecules. It is known that HLA-B*5101 is a slow assembling molecule, while HLA-B*3501 assembles rapidly. The results imply that the slow assembling of HLA-B*5101 molecules results from the low affinity of peptides to HLA-B*5101 molecules.