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Classical swine fever virus (CSFV)-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) were derived from peripheral blood mononuclear leukocytes of immunized NIH-minipigs (MHC d/d haplotype) after in vitro restimulation with infectious CSFV. Their cytotoxic activity was determined against CSFV-infected target cells obtained from simian virus 40 (SV40) large T antigen-transfected immortalized kidney cells of a syngeneic miniature swine. Experiments with separated effector cell populations revealed that the CSFV-specific cytotoxic activity was mediated by CD4(-)CD6(+)CD8(+) MHC class I-restricted T lymphocytes. Infection of target cells with various vaccinia virus/CSFV recombinants led to the identification of a major antigenic site for CSFV-specific CTL near the cleavage site between the non-structural proteins p80 (NS3) and p10 (NS4a). Using synthetic overlapping nonapeptides which covered this protein region the sequence ENALLVALF is the first sequence to be identified as an MHC class I-restricted T cell epitope recognized by CSFV-specific CTL.