Recently, an avian influenza A virus (A/Hong Kong/156/97, H5N1) was isolated from a young child who had a fatal influenza illness. All eight RNA segments were of avian origin. The H5 hemagglutinin is not recognized by neutralizing Abs present in humans as a result of infection with the human H1, H2, or H3 subtypes of influenza A viruses. Subsequently, five other deaths and several more human infections in Hong Kong were associated with this avian-derived virus. We investigated whether influenza A-specific human CD8+ and CD4+ T lymphocytes would recognize epitopes on influenza A virus strains derived from swine or avian species, including the 1997 H5N1 Hong Kong virus strains. Our results demonstrate that adults living in an urban area of the U.S. possess influenza A cross-serotype reactive CD8+ and CD4+ CTL that recognize multiple epitopes on influenza A viruses of other species. Bulk culture cytotoxicity was demonstrated against avian and human influenza A viruses. Enzyme-linked immunospot assays detected precursor CTL specific for both human CTL epitopes and the corresponding A/HK/97 viral sequences. We hypothesize that these cross-reactive CTL might provide partial protection to humans against novel influenza A virus strains introduced into humans from other species.