NY-ESO-1 is a member of the cancer-testis family of tumor antigens that elicits strong humoral and cellular immune responses in patients with NY-ESO-1-expressing cancers. Since CD4(+) T lymphocytes play a critical role in generating antigen-specific cytotoxic T lymphocyte and antibody responses, we searched for NY-ESO-1 epitopes presented by histocompatibility leukocyte antigen (HLA) class II molecules. Autologous monocyte-derived dendritic cells of cancer patients were incubated with recombinant NY-ESO-1 protein and used in enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) assays to detect NY-ESO-1-specific CD4(+) T lymphocyte responses. To identify possible epitopes presented by distinct HLA class II alleles, overlapping 18-mer peptides derived from NY-ESO-1 were synthetized and tested for recognition by CD4(+) T lymphocytes in autologous settings. We identified three NY-ESO-1-derived peptides presented by DRB4*0101-0103 and recognized by CD4(+) T lymphocytes of two melanoma patients sharing these HLA class II alleles. Specificity of recognition was confirmed by proliferation assays. The characterization of HLA class II-restricted epitopes will be useful for the assessment of spontaneous and vaccine-induced immune responses of cancer patients against defined tumor antigens. Further, the therapeutic efficacy of active immunization using antigenic HLA class I-restricted peptides may be improved by adding HLA class II-presented epitopes.