A synthetic peptide corresponding to residues 65-79 of the alpha helix of the alpha-chain of the class II HLA molecule DQA03011 (DQ 65-79) inhibits the proliferation of human T lymphocytes in an allele nonrestricted manner. By using microarray technology, we found that expression of 29 genes was increased or decreased in a human CTL cell line after treatment with DQ 65-79. This study focuses on one of these genes, IkappaB-alpha, whose expression is increased by DQ 65-79. IkappaB proteins, including IkappaB-alpha and IkappaB-beta, are increased in T cells treated with DQ 65-79. Nuclear translocation of the NF-kappaB subunits p65 and p50 is decreased in T cells after treatment with DQ 65-79, while elevated levels of p65 and p50 are present in cytosol. DQ 65-79 inhibits the degradation of IkappaB-alpha mRNA and inhibits the activity of IkappaB kinase. These findings indicate that the DQ 65-79 peptide increases the level of IkappaB proteins, thereby preventing nuclear translocation of the transcription factor, NF-kappaB, and inhibiting T cell proliferation.