Knowledge of dominant T cell epitopes of major allergens recognized by allergic individuals is required to improve efficacy and safety of allergen immunotherapy. Rye grass pollen (RGP) is the most important source of seasonal aeroallergens in temperate climates and Lol p 1 and Lol p 5 are the two major IgE-reactive allergens. This study aimed to characterize the T cell response to these allergens using a large panel of RGP-sensitive individuals. Short-term RGP-specific T cell lines (TCL) were generated from 38 RGP-sensitive subjects and stimulated with Lol p 1 and/or Lol p 5 allergens and synthetic 20-mer peptides. Proliferative responses were determined by 3H-thymidine uptake and IL-5 and IFN-gamma in culture supernatants analysed by ELISA. Of 17 subjects tested for reactivity to both allergens 16 (94%) responded to Lol p 1 and/or Lol p 5, establishing these as major T cell-reactive allergens. Sites of T cell reactivity were spread throughout the allergen molecules but regions of high reactivity were found. For Lol p 1 these spanned residues 19-38, 109-128, 154-173, 190-209, and for Lol p 5 37-56, 100-119, 145-164, 154-173, 190-209, 217-236 and 226-245. IL-5 and IFN-gamma were produced by T cells cultured with proliferation-inducing peptides. T cell responses to RGP major allergens have been extensively characterized, providing fundamental information for developing T cell-targeted immunotherapy for RGP allergy.