The functional properties of cytotoxic lymphocytes from patients with Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada disease ( VKH ) specific for human melanoma cells (P-36 melanoma cell line established from a patient with malignant melanoma) were investigated by using monoclonal antibodies specific for human T cell subsets. Peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) from patients with VKH showed significant cytotoxic activity against the P-36 (SK-MEL-28) human melanoma cell line, but not against a human cervical carcinoma of the uterus cell line (HeLa-S3 cell line) or against a mouse melanoma cell line (B-16 cell line) originating from a C57BL/6 strain mouse or against the EL-4 mouse lymphoma cell line from a C57BL/6 mouse. The cytotoxic activity of the patients' PBL against the P-36 melanoma cell line was markedly reduced by pretreatment of the PBL with monoclonal anti-human Leu-1 antibody plus rabbit complement, but it was reduced to much less extent by pretreatment with either monoclonal anti-human Leu-2a or Leu-3a antibody plus rabbit complement. The specific cytotoxic activity of the patients' PBL against the P-36 human melanoma cell line is, therefore, mediated by T cells bearing Leu-1+ Leu-2a+ or Leu-1+ Leu-3a+ antigens. Furthermore, the cytotoxic activity was shown to be blocked not only by anti-Leu-2a antibody specific to human cytotoxic/suppressor T cells but also unexpectedly by anti-Leu-3a antibody which has previously been considered to be specific to human inducer/helper T cells. The results of this study suggest that at least two distinct subpopulations of cytotoxic T cells specific for P-36 human melanoma cells are present in the peripheral blood of VKH patients. These cytotoxic T cells have different surface antigens, Leu-2a and Leu-3a.