The zona pellucida surrounding mouse oocytes is an extracellular matrix composed of three sulfated glycoproteins, ZP1, ZP2, and ZP3. It has been demonstrated that a monoclonal antibody to ZP3 injected into female mice inhibits fertilization by binding to the zona pellucida and blocking sperm penetration. A complementary DNA encoding ZP3 was randomly cleaved and 200- to 1000-base pair fragments were cloned into the expression vector λgt11. This epitope library was screened with the aforementioned contraceptive antibody, and the positive clones were used to map the seven-amino acid epitope recognized by the antibody. Female mice were immunized with a synthetic peptide containing this B cell epitope coupled to a carrier protein to provide helper T cell epitopes. The resultant circulating antibodies to ZP3 bound to the zona pellucida of immunized animals and produced long-lasting contraception. The lack of ovarian histopathology or cellular cytotoxicity among the immunized animals may be because of the absence of zona pellucida T cell epitopes in this vaccine.