We have examined requirements for antigen presentation to a panel of MHC class I-and class II-restricted, influenza virus-specific CTL clones by controlling the form of virus presented on the target cell surface. Both H-2K/D- and I region-restricted CTL recognize target cells exposed to infectious virus, but only the I region-restricted clones efficiently lysed histocompatible target cells pulsed with inactivated virus preparations. The isolated influenza hemagglutinin (HA) polypeptide also could sensitize target cells for recognition by class II-restricted, HA-specific CTL, but not by class I-restricted, HA-specific CTL. Inhibition of nascent viral protein synthesis abrogated the ability of target cells to present viral antigen relevant for class I-restricted CTL recognition. Significantly, presentation for class II-restricted recognition was unaffected in target cells exposed to preparations of either inactivated or infectious virus. This differential sensitivity suggested that these H-2I region-restricted CTL recognized viral polypeptides derived from the exogenously introduced virions, rather than viral polypeptides newly synthesized in the infected cell. In support of this contention, treatment of the target cells with the lysosomotropic agent chloroquine abolished recognition of infected target cells by class II-restricted CTL without diminishing class I-restricted recognition of infected target cells. Furthermore, when the influenza HA gene was introduced into target cells without exogenous HA polypeptide, the target cells that expressed the newly synthesized protein product of the HA gene were recognized only by H-2K/D-restricted CTL. These observations suggest that important differences may exist in requirements for antigen presentation between H-2K/D and H-2I region-restricted CTL. These differences may reflect the nature of the antigenic epitopes recognized by these two CTL subsets.