A synthetic peptide based on a sequence containing thyroxine at position 2553 in thyroglobulin (Tg), and already shown to be recognized by two clonotypically distinct murine Tg autoreactive T cell hybridomas, can trigger primed lymph node cells to transfer thyroiditis to naive recipients. Donor lymph node cells could be prepared from mice immunized either with intact mouse Tg or with this peptide itself. After a second exposure to the priming antigen in vitro, both these populations induced 100% thyroiditis in recipient animals. The importance of the T4 residue in the development of disease was demonstrated by the failure of Tg tryptic peptides depleted of T4 to stimulate pathogenic effectors in vitro, even when the lymph node cells had been taken from mice primed with whole Tg. We conclude that this T4-containing 12mer sequence is a major thyroiditogenic epitope in CBA/J mice although we cannot exclude the possibility that there are other pathogenic epitopes present in the whole Tg molecule.