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The requirement for processing glycolipid antigens in T cell recognition was examined with mouse CD1d-mediated responses to glycosphingolipids (GSLs). Although some disaccharide GSL antigens can be recognized without processing, the responses to three other antigens, including the disaccharide GSL Gal(α1→2)GalCer (Gal, galactose; GalCer, galactosylceramide), required removal of the terminal sugars to permit interaction with the T cell receptor. A lysosomal enzyme, α-galactosidase A, was responsible for the processing of Gal(α1→2)GalCer to generate the antigenic monosaccharide epitope. These data demonstrate a carbohydrate antigen processing system analogous to that used for peptides and an ability of T cells to recognize processed fragments of complex glycolipids.