Analysis of pathogen-reactive T cell clones (CD3+4+8-TCR alpha beta +), isolated from the synovial fluid of 2 HLA-B27-positive patients with Yersinia enterocolitica-triggered reactive arthritis, has provided important information about the cellular immune response to this disease-inciting pathogen. This study demonstrates that the proteins secreted by Y. enterocolitica, including a protein with tyrosine phosphatase activity (YopH), are potent immunogens stimulating CD4+ cells within the inflamed joint. The pathogen-reactive T cell clones preferentially utilized a limited set of T cell receptor variable region gene segments. A purified Yersinia superantigen triggered a proliferative response in most of the antigen-reactive T cell clones tested. These results suggest that the activity of this pathogen's superantigen influences the cellular immune response to its antigens.