Human T-cell leukemia-lymphoma virus (HTLV) is a human C-type retrovirus that can transform T lymphocytes in vitro and is associated with certain T-cell neoplasms. Recent data suggest that, in the United States, patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), homosexual men with lymphadenopathy, and hemophiliacs have had significant exposure rates to HTLV, whereas matched and unmatched control American subjects have rarely been exposed to this agent. In the present experiments, T cells specifically reactive against HTLV were propagated from a patient whose HTLV-bearing lymphoma was in remission. The T cells were cloned in the presence of the virus and an HTLV-specific cytotoxic T-cell clone was isolated. This clone was infected and transformed by the virus, with one copy of an HTLV-I provirus being integrated into the genome. This T-cell clone did not exhibit the normal dependence on T-cell growth factor (interleukin-2) and proliferated spontaneously in vitro. Exposure of the clone to HTLV-bearing, autologous tumor cells specifically inhibited its proliferation and resulted in its death. These results may have implications for HTLV-associated inhibition of T-cell responses.