We have previously found that an increased tumorigenicity and spontaneous metastatic potential of BW5147-derived T lymphoma cells was associated with a decrease in major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I H-2Kk antigen expression. This suggested that H-2Kk antigens may control the tumorigenic potential of BW T lymphoma cells. Our current experiments aimed to prove this association by specifically altering H-2Kk expression by gene transfection. Transfected cells expressing a high level of H-2Kk antigens were significantly less tumorigenic and metastatic after subcutaneous inoculation. However, there was selection in vivo for cells expressing a reduced level of H-2Kk antigens, which concomitantly led to an increased tumorigenicity. These data further confirmed the strong association between H-2Kk expression and tumorigenicity. We subsequently tested whether the immune system is implicated in this phenomenon by inoculating the H-2Kk transfectants into irradiated, immunocompromised recipients. Our results indicate that the reduced tumorigenicity of the BW H-2Kk transfectants is due to an immune rejection mechanism, mediated by CD8+ immune effector cells, as revealed by in vivo depletion experiments with anti-CD8 antibodies. Hence, we hereby demonstrated that H-2Kk antigens increased the immunogenicity of BW cells, via a CD8-dependent mechanism, which consequently reduced their tumorigenicity.