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Summary: Some cancer patients mount spontaneous T- and B-cell responses against their tumor cells. Autologous tumor reactive CD8 cytolytic T lymphocyte (CTL) and CD4 T-cell clones as well as antibodies from these patients have been used for the identification of genes encoding the target antigens. This knowledge opened the way for new approaches to the immunotherapy of cancer. In this review, we describe the characterization of the structure-function properties of the melanocyte/melanoma tumor antigen Melan-A/MART-1, the assessment of the T-cell repertoire available against this antigen in healthy individuals, and the analysis of naturally acquired and/or vaccine-induced CTL responses to this antigen in patients with metastatic melanoma.