To study the role of subdominant epitopes in tumor rejection we have used EL4 tumor cells and their ovalbumin (OVA)-transfected counterpart E.G7. Immunization of mice with irradiated EL4 cells conferred protection against challenge with EL4 and E.G7. Surprisingly, immunization with irradiated E.G7 cells did not protect against a subsequent challenge with EL4 or E.G7. Growth of E.G7 tumors in E.G7 immunized mice was not due to loss of expression of OVA or MHC I by the tumor cells in vivo. Adoptive transfer of OVA-specific transgenic T cells, immunization of mice with native or heat-denatured OVA or infection with a recombinant virus expressing OVA also failed to induce rejection of E.G7 tumors. Lack of immunogenicity of the OVA-expressing tumor could not be overcome by combination of a CD40 activating antibody with immunization against E.G7 or OVA. Our results suggest that immunization against subdominant epitopes is more effective than vaccination against dominant epitopes.