X-ray quality crystals which diffract to high resolution (less than or equal to 1.9-2.1 A) have been grown of an anti-peptide Fab and its complex with a 9-residue peptide antigen. Both crystals are monoclinic P2(1), with unit cell dimensions a = 90.3 A, b = 82.9 A, c = 73.4 A, beta = 122.5 degrees for the native Fab and a = 63.9 A, b = 73.0 A, c = 49.1 A, beta = 120.6 degrees for the complex. The peptide sequence corresponds to residues 100-108 of all influenza virus hemagglutinins (HA1) of the H3 subtype (1968-1987). The peptide antigen has been well characterized immunologically (Wilson, I.A., Niman, H.L., Houghton, R.A., Cherenson, A.R., Connolly, M.L., and Lerner, R.A. (1984) Cell 37, 767-778; Wilson, I.A., Bergmann, K.F., and Stura, E.A. (1986) in Vaccines '86 (Channock, R.M., Lerner, R.A., and Brown, F., eds) pp. 33-37, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, NY), structurally, as a free peptide by NMR (Dyson, J.H., Cross, K.J., Houghton, R.A., Wilson, I.A., Wright, P.E., and Lerner, R.A. (1985) Nature 318, 480-483; Dyson, J.H., Lerner, R.A., and Wright, P.E., (1988) Annu. Rev. Biophys. Chem. 17, 305-324), as part of the intact antigen by x-ray crystallography (Wilson, I.A., Skehel, J.J., and Wiley, D. C. (1981) Nature 289, 366-373) and by binding studies to the HA molecule (White, J.M., and Wilson, I.A. (1987) J. Cell Biol. 105, 2887-2896). Knowledge of the three-dimensional structure of the complex will elucidate the details of how anti-peptide antibodies recognize a small peptide antigen and provide insights into the recognition of the same sequence in the intact protein antigen. As both native Fab and the peptide-Fab complex have been crystallized, we can also determine in addition whether changes in the structure of the antibody accompany antigen binding. The nucleotide sequence of the mRNA coding region of the anti-peptide Fab has been determined to provide the amino acid sequence ultimately required for the high resolution three-dimensional structure determination.