Immunization with the autoantigen myelin basic protein (MBP) causes experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE). Initial investigations indicated that encephalitogenic murine determinants of MBP were located only within MBP 1-37 and MBP 89-169. Encephalitogenic T cell epitopes within these fragments have been identified. Each epitope is recognized by T cells in association with separate allelic I-A molecules. A hybrid I-E-restricted T cell clone that recognizes intact mouse (self) MBP has been examined. The epitope recognized by this clone includes MBP residues 35-47. When tested in vivo, p35-47 causes EAE. T cell recognition of p35-47 occurs only in association with I-E molecules. These results provide the first clear example that antigen-specific T cells restricted by I-E class II molecules participate in murine autoimmune disease. Furthermore, it is clear that there are multiple (at least three) discrete encephalitogenic T cell epitopes of this autoantigen, each recognized in association with separate allelic class II molecules. These results may be relevant to human autoimmune diseases whose susceptibility is associated with more than one HLA-D molecule.