Allergic sensitivity of Dermatophagoides spp (house dust mites) is mediated by specific IgE antibody, the production of which requires the presence of CD4+ helper T cells. Attempts to hyposensitize this response in allergic individuals have depended on the administration of extracts of specific allergen. However, the ability of peptides derived from unrelated antigens to inhibit specific immune responses offers an alternative approach to therapy. We have addressed this question by examining the ability of a nonstimulatory peptide analogue derived from influenza virus hemagglutinin to modulate T cell recognition of house dust mite. The peptide inhibited the response of mite-specific CD4+ T cell clones restricted by either the HLA-DRABI or DRAB3 gene products. Furthermore, mite-induced polyclonal T cell responses were negatively modulated by the peptide, whereas recognition of common recall antigens remained intact. The inhibitory effects were mediated at the level of the antigen-presenting cell, since no inhibition of mitogen or anti-CD3 antibody-driven T cell proliferation was observed. In direct binding assays, the peptide analogue bound to selected HLA-DR molecules expressed on the membrane of antigen-presenting cells, with specificity predominantly for those class II proteins capable of restricting house dust mite-allergen T cell recognition.