Acute rejection, mediated by T lymphocytes recognizing donor MHC class I and II, is a major factor influencing renal transplant survival. To define the specificity of these effector cells we examined cytolytic activity of graft infiltrating T lymphocytes (GIL) from renal biopsies of individuals undergoing acute cellular rejection. The majority of these cells recognized MHC class I on both donor kidney epithelial cells (KCL) and B-lymphoblastoid cells (LCL) suggesting these T cells recognized peptides from various tissues. However, cold target inhibition experiments demonstrated a significant proportion of GILT cells were tissue specific. We reported previously that kidney specific CTL can be isolated from biopsies of kidney allografts undergoing acute cellular rejection. Here we extend that observation showing we were able to isolate tissue specific CTL from two additional biopsies. Greater than 10% of the clones isolated (4 of 36 and 5 of 37) from these biopsies were CTL recognizing donor KCL but not LCL targets suggesting that peptides, recognized in the context of donor MHC, were tissue specific. Repeated isolation of significant numbers of tissue specific CTL suggests these T cells play a role in allograft rejection and may be important effector cells mediating rejection in HLA matched transplants.