Epa-1-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) lyse epidermal cells (EC) of different Epa-1+ H-2k strains, such a AKR, CBA, C58, and RF, at different levels. We used an H-2Kk-specific monoclonal antibody (mAb) to test the hypothesis that this phenomenon is due to differences in the H-2-restricting element. Initially, we established the specificity of this mAb for the Epa-1-restricting element by demonstrating its capacity to inhibit the lysis of CBA EC by Epa-1-specific CTL. We then used it as the probe in a cellular radioimmunoassay to quantify the expression of the restricting element by EC of different H-2k strains. We found that C58 and RF EC bound significantly less of the mAb than did CBA EC. Although AKR also bound less of the mAb than did CBA EC, the difference was not statistically significant. To examine the generality of this phenomenon, we quantified the expression of Kk antigens on spleen cells (SC) of the same four strains. We found that RF SC, but not AKR or C58 SC, bound significantly less of the Kk mAb than did CBA SC. Thus, the differential CTL lysis of Epa-1+ EC of different strains probably reflects differences in expression of the H-2-restricting element rather than of the nominal antigen.