The human class I HLA molecules are composed of both polymorphic, or private, and conserved, or public, regions. The private regions are recognized by alloreactive T cells and also serve as restriction elements for peptide presentation to autologous cells. Although the ability of public determinants to elicit antibody responses is well documented, little is known of their role in T cell function. In this study we examine the ability of one of these public HLA determinants, designated Bw4, to serve as a target Ag for CTL. We show that for some individuals the HLA-Bw4 epitope can function as a restriction element for CTL. This finding has important implications for organ transplantation.