Background Assessment of T-cell diversity, besides giving insights about the molecular basis of tumor antigen recognition, has clinical implications since it provides criteria for evaluating antigen-specific T cells clinically relevant for spontaneous and vaccine-induced anti-tumor activity. Melan-A is one of the melanoma antigens most frequently recognized by peripheral and tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes in HLA-A2+ melanoma patients. Many clinical trials involving anti-tumor vaccination have been conducted using modified versions of this peptide. Methods We conducted an in-depth characterization of 210 T-cell receptor beta chain (TRB) clonotypes derived from T cells of HLA-A2+ melanoma patients displaying cytotoxic activity against natural and A27L-modified Melan-A peptides. One hundred and thirteen Melan-A-specific clonotypes from melanoma-free subjects, 199 clonotypes from T-cell clones from melanoma patients specific for melanoma antigens other than Melan-A, and 305 clonotypes derived from T cells of HLA-A2+ individuals showing unrelated specificities, were used as control. After sequence analysis, performed according to the IMGT definitions, TRBV and TRBJ usage, CDR3 length and amino acid composition were compared in the four groups of clonotypes. Results TRB sequences of Melan-A-specific clonotypes obtained from melanoma patients were highly heterogeneous, but displayed a preferential usage of few TRBV and TRBJ segments. Furthermore, they included a recurrent "public" amino acid motif (Glycine-Leucine-Glycine at positions 110-112-113 of the CDR3) rearranged with dominant TRBV and TRBJ segments and, in one case, associated with a full conservation of the entire TRB sequence. Conclusion Contrary to what observed for public anti-Melan-A T-cell receptor alpha motifs, which had been identified in several clonotypes of both melanoma patients and healthy controls, the unexpectedly high contribution of a public TRB motif in the recognition of a dominant melanoma epitope in melanoma patients may provide important information about the biology of anti-tumor T-cell responses and improve monitoring strategies of anti-tumor vaccines.