Mice infected with Listeria monocytogenes (LM) generate H2-M3wt-restricted CD8 effectors which recognize a heat-killed LM-associated antigen (HAA) presented by macrophages. To characterize HAA, we extracted a bioactive component from LM using SDS or NaOH. Extracted HAA aggregated in hydrophilic solvents but dissociated in the presence of SDS into a smaller subunit which migrated in Sephadex G-200 between chymotrypsinogen (25 kDa) and cytochrome c (12.5 kDa). HAA bioactivity and size was unaffected by proteinase K under conditions which degraded virtually all detectable protein. HAA was also unaffected by other proteases, RNase and DNase, but HAA bioactivity was destroyed by periodate, an agent that degrades carbohydrates. These studies demonstrate that H2-M3wt can present a hydrophobic, non-peptide, microbial antigen, probably glycolipid in origin, to CD8 T cells.