Vaccines aiming to activate cytotoxic T cells require cross-presentation of exogenous antigen by antigen-presenting cells (APCs). We recently developed a synthetic nanoparticle vaccine platform that targets lymph node-resident dendritic cells (DCs), capable of mounting an immune response to conjugated antigen. Here, we explore routes of processing and the efficiency of MHC I cross-presentation of OVA peptides conjugated using both reducible and non-reducible linkages, exploring the hypothesis that reduction-sensitive conjugation will lead to better antigen cross-presentation. Both clathrin and macropinocytic pathways were implicated in nanoparticle uptake by colocalization and inhibitor studies. Cross-presentation by DCs was demonstrated by direct antibody staining and in vitro stimulation of CD8(+) T cells from OT-I mice and was indeed most efficient with the reduction-sensitive conjugation. Similarly, we observed IFN-γ production by CD4(+) T cells from OT-II mice. Finally, immunization with the OVA peptide-bearing nanoparticles resulted in in vivo proliferation and IFN-γ production by adoptively transferred CD8(+) OT-I T cells and was also most efficient with reduction-sensitive linking of the peptide antigen. These results demonstrate the relevance of the poly(propylene sulfide) nanoparticle vaccine platform and antigen conjugation scheme for activating both cytotoxic and helper T cell responses.