The peripheral TCR V beta repertoire is strongly influenced by the processes of negative selection (deletion) and positive selection in the thymus. In order to investigate whether such selection events influence the V alpha repertoire, we have produced an anti-V alpha 11 mAb. This antibody was made by immunization with a chimeric TCR:Ig protein containing V alpha 11 in place of the VH of an IgG2a, lambda Ig. This scheme optimizes the specificity of immunization and facilitates the screening procedure. The antibody recognizes a panel of V alpha 11-expressing T cell clones. Analysis of mouse strains indicates that the antibody recognizes V alpha 11 only in mice of the C57 background. The expression of the epitope on peripheral T cells is strongly biased to the CD4+ subset, suggesting positive selection of V alpha 11 on class II MHC molecules. In some strain comparisons, the percentage of V alpha 11-expressing T cells in the CD4+ subset was elevated in I-E+ relative to I-E- strains. These data suggest that V alpha 11 can differentially influence the selection of T cells into the CD4+/CD8+ subsets.