The response to multiple minor alloantigens in the secondary mixed lymphocyte culture (MLC) between mouse strains that are identical at the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) generally yields effector cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) which show cross-reactive killing of most or all third-party mouse strains which also share MHC haplotypes. We have investigated the clonal diversity of CTL responses in vivo versus in vitro by examination of such cross-reactions, using CTL effector cells derived from a primary response, an in vivo secondary response, and an in vitro secondary MLC. CTL from these three responses were assayed on a panel of H-2k targets. Restimulation of antigen-primed spleen cells in vitro yielded CTL which were strongly cross-reactive on all targets, whereas the in vivo responses were much less so. We conclude that the set of clones which become cytotoxic effectors in vivo is much less diverse than the set which is primed on a first encounter with antigen and that powerful constraints must therefore operate on the specificity of in vivo responses to non-MHC antigens.