Viral epitopes that are recognized by both HLA class I-restricted and class II-restricted T cells have been defined for a type A influenza virus nucleoprotein (NP) peptide. CD8+ and CD4+ CTL lines have been generated against a synthetic peptide encompassing residues 335 to 349 of NP that are restricted by HLA-B37 and HLA-DQw5, respectively. Both of these CTL populations were capable of specifically lysing influenza A virus-infected targets, indicating that a naturally processed NP peptide(s) was being mimicked by the NP (335-349) peptide. Amino acid residues that are critical for recognition of this NP determinant in the context of HLA-B37 and HLA-DQw5 were investigated by the use of panels of truncated and alanine-substituted NP peptides. The results demonstrate that: 1) truncations in the amino- or carboxy-terminal ends differentially affect CD8+ and CD4+ CTL recognition; 2) the NP (335-349) sequence contains two octapeptide epitopes that share a core of six amino acid residues (NP 338-343); and 3) alanine substitutions at five of these residues abrogated recognition by at least one of the CD8+ and CD4+ CTL lines. Thus, these class I- and class II-restricted CTL lines recognize similar but distinct epitopes, and different structural features of the NP peptide are required for presentation by HLA-B37 and HLA-DQw5. Comparison of the amino acid sequences of the NP peptide presented by HLA-B37 and HLA-DQw5 with other peptides known to be presented by both class I and class II molecules revealed a common motif among these peptides.