A subtractive analysis of peptides eluted from major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I human histocompatibility leukocyte antigen (HLA)-A2.1 molecules purified from either human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1)-infected or uninfected cells was performed using micro high-performance liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry. Three peptides unique to infected cells were identified and found to derive from a single protein, human vinculin, a structural protein not known to be involved in viral pathogenesis. Molecular and cytofluorometric analyses revealed vinculin mRNA and vinculin protein overexpression in B and T lymphocytes from HIV-1-infected individuals. Vinculin peptide-specific CTL activity was readily elicited from peripheral blood lymphocytes of the majority of HLA-A2.1+, HIV+ patients tested. Our observations suggest that atypical vinculin expression and MHC class I-mediated presentation of vinculin-derived peptides accompany HIV infection of lymphoid cells in vivo, with a resultant induction of antivinculin CTL in a significant portion of HIV+ (HLA-A2.1+) individuals.