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Cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) are a critical component of the immune response to tumors. Tumor-derived peptide antigens targeted by CTLs are being defined for several human tumors and are potential immunogens for the induction of specific antitumor immunity. Dendritic cells (DC) are potent antigen-presenting cells (APCs) capable of priming CTL responses in vivo. Here we show that major histocompatibility complex class I- presented peptide antigen pulsed onto dendritic APCs induces protective immunity to lethal challenge by a tumor transfected with the antigen gene. The immunity is antigen specific, requiring expression of the antigen gene by the tumor target, and is eliminated by in vivo depletion of CD8+ T cells. Furthermore, mice that have rejected the transfected tumor are protected from subsequent challenge with the untransfected parent tumor. These results suggest that immunization strategies using antigen-pulsed DC may be useful for inducing tumor- specific immune responses.