Taking advantage of a potent MHC class I-restricted response that allows the identification of antigen-selected CD8 T cells directly ex vivo, we characterized the antigen-specific T cell repertoires that develop in individual mice by single-cell PCR analysis. Each of the immune mice displayed distinct yet structurally similar TCR repertoires. The overall repertoire size was estimated to be in the range of 15-20 for most mice. No major differences were observed between primary and secondary responses. Moreover, for a hyperimmunized mouse the antigen-specific TCR repertoire expressed 8 months after the initial immunization was very similar to that found at the peak of the primary response. Our results demonstrate that a high magnitude immune response may be composed of very few clones, and that at least in the system analyzed, the memory response largely reflects the repertoire selected by the peak of the primary response.