H-2k (C3H/Hej) cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) specific for lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) were cloned. Three clones recognizing internal viral antigens were studied. One such CTL clone recognized neither the glycoprotein nor nucleoprotein encoded by the viral short RNA segment, but reacted with a protein encoded by the long RNA segment, either the viral polymerase, or the Z protein. This one clone, in addition to primary CTL harvested from immunized C3H mice, failed to lyse target cells expressing the Z protein, suggesting recognition was to the viral polymerase. Two other clones recognized the viral nucleoprotein, amino acids 93-100, as determined by protein deletion and peptide mapping studies. When introduced directly into the central nervous systems of LCMV-infected histocompatible mice, all clones were active in vivo and capable of causing immunopathologically mediated death.