The recognition of influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA) by T lymphocytes was examined by assaying the T cell proliferative response of influenza virus-primed T cells to purified HA of different influenza A subtypes or to isolated heavy (HA1) or light (HA2) polypeptide chains of the HA molecule. The proliferative responses to HA was dependent on the activation of an Ly-1+2- subset of T cells and required the presence of nylon wool-adherent, radiation-resistant accessory cells. T cells from mice primed by infection with one strain of type A influenza virus cross-reacted with other purified HA not only of the same subtype as the priming virus but also of serologically distinct subtypes of influenza A (but not B) virus. The response of virus-primed T cells to the homologous HA or to HA of the same subtype was shown to involve recognition of determinants on both the HA1 and the HA2 chains. The recognition of HA of different subtype by cross-reactive T cells appeared to be directed predominantly to determinants on HA2. Because the antibody response to influenza virus HA is not cross-reactive between subtypes and is directed predominantly to determinants on HA1, the present results indicate that at least some of the determinants on HA recognized by T cells are different from those recognized by B cells and that the HA2 chain may be involved primarily in stimulation of T cell rather than B cell immunity.