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To evaluate cross-clade recognition of p55 antigen by cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) in persons infected with diverse clades of HIV-1; to facilitate the development of a CTL-inducing vaccine to prevent transmission of multiple clades of HIV-1.Experiments were designed to evaluate whether persons in Uganda and the United Kingdom, infected with diverse clades of HIV-1, have CTL capable of recognizing and killing autologous target cells infected with recombinant vaccinia viruses (rVV) expressing the Gag protein from A, B, C and D clade HIV-1. The extent of cross-reactivity within such individuals, each infected with characterized virus, might reflect the type of cross-reactive immune response inducible by a monovalent vaccine.Asymptomatic HIV-positive individuals were fully tissue-typed by ARMS (amplification of refractory mutation system) polymerase chain reaction. rVV expressing the Gag protein from identified A, B, C and D viruses were prepared. CTL were cultured and tested for cytolytic activity on autologous rVV-infected or peptide-pulsed B cells.Ugandan patients had inducible CTL responses recognizing A, B, C and D clade HIV-1 Gag. The majority of UK patients had inducible CTL responses that recognized two or more clades. No patient showed any HIV-2 cross-reactivity. Cross-reactive responses were characterized in three Ugandan patients.Most patients tested mounted cross-reactive CTL responses that recognized Gag proteins from clades of HIV-1 other than those with which they were infected.