Ag recognition by OVA-reactive OT-II (I-Ab restricted) and DO11.10 (I-Ad restricted) TCR-Tg CD4+ T cells after heterotopic transplantation of OVA transgene-expressing tracheal grafts was examined as a model of minor histocompatibility Ag (mHAg)-induced chronic allograft rejection. In response to airway allotransplantation with grafts expressing the OVA transgene, these TCR-Tg CD4+ T cells expressed the activation markers CD69 and CD44, demonstrated evidence of blastogenesis, underwent multiple rounds of cell division leading to their clonal expansion in the draining lymph node, and proceeded to differentiate to a effector/memory T cell phenotype based on a reduction in the expression of CD45RB. These mHAg-specific TCR-Tg CD4+ T cells responded equally well to fully MHC-mismatched tracheas and to class II-deficient allografts, demonstrating that donor mHAg recognition by recipient CD4+ T cells does not rely on Ag presentation by donor-derived APC. The activation of mHAg-specific TCR-Tg CD4+ T cells after their adoptive transfer into recipient mice given MHC-matched, but mHAg-disparate, airway allografts was associated with their movement into the allograft and the near uniform destruction of the transplanted airway tissue secondary to the development of obliterative airways disease. These results demonstrate that an activation of mHAg-reactive CD4 + T cells in the draining lymph node by recipient APC that indirectly express graft mHAg-derived peptide/class II MHC complexes precedes responder T cell proliferation and differentiation, and leads to the eventual migration of these alloreactive T cells to the transplanted airway tissue and the promotion of chronic graft rejection.