Several T cell-recognized epitopes presented by melanoma cells have been identified recently. Despite the large array of epitopes potentially available for clinical use, it is still unclear which of these antigens could be effective in mediating anti-tumor responses when used as a vaccine. Preliminary studies showed that immunization of melanoma patients with epitopes derived from proteins of the MAGE family may result in significant clinical regressions. However, no sign of systemic immunization could be observed in peripheral blood of treated patients. Conversely, significant immunization (detected as increased antigen-specific CTL activity in peripheral blood) was obtained by vaccinating HLA-A2.1+ melanoma patients with the immunodominant epitope (residues 27-35) of the differentiation antigen MART-1, but this immunization was not accompanied by a significant clinical response. To implement immunotherapeuties capable of significantly impacting disease outcome, it is necessary to identify the potential mechanisms responsible for the failure of some antigens to mediate significant anti-tumor responses in vivo. In the case of the MART-1(27-35) epitope, we hypothesize that one of these mechanisms may be related to the existence of natural analogs of this peptide in other human normal proteins.