Antigen-specific T cell blasts to poly-18, a polypeptide antigen of defined sequence and conformation, were generated from lymph nodes of antigen-primed BALB/cCr mice. These blasts were fused with the BW5147 thymoma to obtain anti-poly-18-reactive T cell hybridomas. All of the hybridomas were IAd-restricted and secreted IL2 in the presence of IAd/poly-18. On the basis of fine specificity analysis, these hybridomas were classified into two groups. Group A hybridomas recognized a minimal peptide sequence of Glu-Tyr-Lys-(Glu-Tyr-Ala)3-Glu-Tyr-Lys, whereas Group B needed the sequence Glu-Tyr-Ala-(Glu-Tyr-Ala)3-Glu-Tyr-Lys/Ala for activation. Three critical residues were identified in Group A hybridomas: the alanine residue at position 9, the carboxy terminal lysine, and the lysine at position 3. In Group B hybridomas, the alanine at position 3 was found to be the critical residue. We suggest that the amino acid residue at position 3 (lysine/alanine) is the T cell receptor contact residue on the poly-18 antigen in BALB/cCr mice.