Human and murine natural T (NT) cells, also referred to as NK1.1+ or NK T cells, express TCR with homologous V regions (hAV24/BV11 and mAV14/BV8, respectively) and conserved "invariant" TCR AVAJ junctional sequences, suggesting recognition of closely related antigens. Murine NT cells recognize CD1-expressing cells and are activated in a CD1-restricted fashion by several synthetic alpha-glycosylceramides, such as alpha-GalCer. Here we studied the reactivity of human T cells against CD1d+ cells pulsed or not with alpha-GalCer and other related ceramides. CD1d-restricted recognition of alpha-GalCer was a general and specific feature of T cell clones expressing both BV11 and canonical AV24AJ18 TCR chains. Besides, human and murine NT cells showed the same reactivity patterns against a set of related glycosylceramides, suggesting a highly conserved mode of recognition of these antigens in humans and rodents. We also identified several AV24BV11 T cell clones self reactive against CD1+ cells of both hemopoietic and nonhemopoietic origin, suggesting the existence of distinct NT cell subsets differing by their ability to recognize self CD1d molecules.