A 40-kDa protein antigen from Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis has been identified by application of a strategy that employs locally derived antibody-secreting cells (ASC). ASC probes generated by culture of ASC obtained from the lymph node draining the site of infection showed a specificity restricted to a 40-kDa antigen. Analysis of immunoblots with sequential serum samples taken from sheep during the course of experimental primary infection with C. pseudotuberculosis also revealed the 40-kDa antigen as an early immunodominant antigen. Sheep vaccinated with two 100-micrograms doses of a 40-kDa antigen preparation in aluminium hydroxide adjuvant were protected against infection with C. pseudotuberculosis, with an 82% reduction in the proportion of infected sheep and a 98% reduction in lung lesions. Sera from vaccinated sheep exhibited a strong response only to the 40-kDa antigen on immunoblots. These results strongly suggest that the 40-kDa antigen plays a major role in immunity to caseous lymphadenitis.