Primary lymph node cells derived from streptococcal cell wall arthritic rats or those derived from adjuvant arthritic rats proliferated in response to cell wall antigens derived from either streptococcal cell walls or those from M. tuberculosis. In addition, two T cell lines have been isolated from lymph nodes of rats during the chronic phase of streptococcal cell wall arthritis. These T cell lines transfered clinical disease to naive syngeneic irradiated recipients, and they proliferated in the presence of cell wall antigens derived from streptococci or antigens derived from Mycobacterium but failed to proliferate in the presence of the 65-kD antigen (containing the sequence TFGLQLELT) derived from Mycobacterium. These observations indicate that T cells play a crucial role in the pathogenesis of streptococcal cell wall arthritis and suggest that antigenic crossreactivity exists between cell walls of group A streptococci and antigens derived from Mycobacterium. The 65-kD Mycobacterium protein is not involved in the observed antigenic crossreactivity.