The M protein of rheumatogenic group A streptococci induces carditis and valvulitis in Lewis rats and may play a role in pathogenesis of rheumatic heart disease. To identify the epitopes of M5 protein that produce valvulitis, synthetic peptides spanning A, B, and C repeat regions contained within the extracellular domain of the streptococcal M5 protein were investigated. A repeat region peptides NT4, NT5/6, and NT7 induced valvulitis similar to the intact pepsin fragment of M5 protein. T cell lines from rats with valvulitis recognized M5 peptides NT5/6 and NT6. Passive transfer of an NT5/6-specific T cell line into naïve rats produced valvulitis characterized by infiltration of CD4+ cells and upregulation of VCAM-1, while an NT6-specific T cell line did not target the valve. Our new data suggests that M protein-specific T cells may be important mediators of valvulitis in the Lewis rat model of rheumatic carditis.