Necrotic cell death yields the release of cellular components that can function in the initiation of cellular immune responses. Given the established capacity of the endoplasmic reticulum chaperone GRP94 (gp96) to elicit CD8+ T cell activation, we have investigated the cellular fate and antigenicity of GRP94 in differing scenarios of cell death. Virally induced cell death or mechanical cell death, elicited by freeze/thaw treatment of cell suspensions, yielded GRP94 release into the extracellular space; apoptotic cell death occurring in response to serum deprivation did not elicit GRP94 release. To assess the antigenicity of GRP94 released following virally induced cell death (lethal infection of cells with rVV ES-OVAMet258-265, a recombinant, ovalbumin epitope-expressing vaccinia virus) or mechanical cell death (freeze/thaw of ovalbumin-expressing cells), tissue culture supernatant fractions were pulsed onto antigen-presenting cells, and antigen re-presentation was assayed as activation of an ovalbumin-specific T cell hybridoma. For both cell death scenarios, released GRP94 elicited a dose-dependent, ovalbumin-specific, hybridoma activation. In contrast, calreticulin derived from rVV ES-OVAMet258-265-infected cell extracts did not stimulate B3Z activity. These data identify GRP94 as an antigenic component released upon pathological, but not apoptotic, cell death and provide an assay system for the identification of cellular components of related activity.