The effect of alanine substitution on the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) binding and T cell receptor recognition of the Kb‐restricted ovalbumin 257–264 peptide was investigated. Positions 3, 5 and 8 of the octamer were important for Kb binding, as predicted from the motifs found in Kb‐associated peptides, while mutations at positions 4, 6 and 7 affected cytotoxic T lymphocyte recognition. Substitutions at positions 1 and 2 had very minor effects on T cell recognition. In addition, we tested the capacity of sequence motifs to predict MHC binding by analysis of a series of peptides which all bear the minimal Kb motif. We found that possession of good motifs was not always sufficient to give strong MHC binding, indicating secondary effects of the residues flanking the „MHC anchor” positions.