Allelic polymorphism in TCR loci may play an important role in shaping the T cell repertoire and in disease susceptibility. We have used a combination of antibody and sequence analysis to investigate polymorphism in the murine V alpha 11 family. Two different antibodies have been analyzed that recognize particular V alpha 11 family members of the V alpha b and V alpha d haplotypes. One antibody shows J alpha dependency, suggesting a conformational element to the epitope. Investigation of the anti-V alpha 11 staining pattern on different mouse strains indicates that there is a marked influence of MHC haplotype on V alpha 11 selection and that V alpha 11 is preferentially expressed on CD4+ cells. Sequence analysis of V alpha 11 genes from the V alpha a, V alpha b, and V alpha d haplotypes shows two potential regions for the haplotype-specific epitopes. The relatedness of the different V alpha 11 family members from different haplotypes suggests that the V alpha 11.1/11.2 gene duplication is relatively recent, but that V alpha 11.3 separated much earlier. Differences between V alpha 11.3 and V alpha 11.1/11.2 are concentrated in the putative complementarity determining regions (CDR), whereas differences between alleles are not clearly clustered. However, the V alpha 11.1a and V alpha 11.1d alleles differ from V alpha 11.1b and V alpha 11.2b in CDR1. A V alpha 11.2-expressing anti-cytochrome c T cell has the same V-J junction as a V alpha 11.1-bearing cell with a similar fine specificity, indicating that V alpha 11.1b and V alpha 11.2b do not contribute different Ag specificities.