The proteasome contributes to the generation of most of the peptide ligands of MHC class I molecules. To compare the identity of the peptides generated by the proteasome with those finally presented by MHC class I molecules, we generated a monoclonal antibody recognizing the C-terminal part of the dominant H2-Kd ligand SYFPEITHI derived from the JAK1 tyrosine kinase. Immunoprecipitations of lysates from H2-Kd-expressing or non-expressing cells revealed that only in the presence of H2-Kd SYFPEITHI could be isolated. No longer potential precursor peptide containing SYFPEITHI could be detected. Surprisingly, a peptide lacking the first two amino acids, FPEITHI, was isolated independently of the presence of H2-Kd molecules. The detection of only SYFPEITHI and FPEITHI in cell lysates corresponded with the strong generation of these two peptides in in vitro digests of elongated SYFPEITHI-containing peptides with purified 20S proteasomes. Our results indicate that MHC ligands can be generated directly by the proteasome in vivo and that at least for SYFPEITHI the expression of the corresponding MHC molecule is critical for protection of the ligand in vivo.