Genes coding for the heavy chain of the class I antigens HLA-A2 or HLA-B7 of the human major histocompatibility complex have been introduced into mouse LtK- cells by cotransfection with the herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase gene. HAT-resistant colonies were isolated expressing either HLA-A2 or HLA-B7 as monitored by indirect immunofluorescence. Immunoprecipitation analysis of both antigens by either sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) or isoelectric focusing (IEF) showed that they were identical to the HLA-A2 and HLA-B7 expressed in the human lymphoblastoid cell line JY (homozygous HLA-A2, HLA-B7). However, human cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) generated against JY and CTL clones specific for HLA-A2 or HLA-B7 were unable to recognize the transfectants as targets. These results indicate that the human HLA-A2 (or B7) complexed with the murine beta 2-microglobulin could be an inappropriate target structure for the CTL. However, because the transfectants are not killed by human CTL even in the presence of lectins, it is suggested that other molecules that are not able to overcome the human-mouse species barrier may be involved in the killing mechanism.