We report a strategy for high through-put sequence analyses of large MHC class II-bound peptide repertoires which combines automated electrospray ionization tandem mass-spectrometry with computer-assisted interpretation of the tandem mass spectra using the algorithm SEQUEST. This powerful approach discerned 128 peptide sequences displayed by the murine MHC class II molecule I-Ab in activated B cells and macrophages, including a surprisingly large number of peptides derived from self cytosolic proteins. Mice lacking the chaperone molecule H-2M were used to generate T cells specific for selected self peptides. Functional T cell analyses of ex vivo antigen-presenting cells indicated that peptides originating from cytosolic proteins are efficiently presented by splenic and thymic dendritic cells, but less so by resting B cells or thymic cortical epithelial cells. These results suggest that central tolerance to at least some MHC class II-bound self peptides derived from cytosolic proteins exists in vivo.