The leading model for class I-b evolution suggests non-polymorphic I-b genes evolve by gene duplication from polymorphic I-a genes. We recently found N-formyl peptide-specific orthologs of the class I-b gene H2-M3 in the rodent subfamily Sigmodontinae. To test if sigmodont M3 is a I-b gene, we sequenced M3 from wild cotton rats (Sigmodon hispidus) diverse at the class II locus, Sihi-DQA. These haplotypes carry a single allele of M3 that closely resembles H2-M3. However, peptide-binding assays showed that cotton rat M3 bound the chemotactic N-formylpeptide fMLF better than did rat or mouse M3. The Ala116→Lys substitution in cotton rat M3 might enhance binding of fMLF and is one of eight residues of M3 that interact with ligand residues P3 and P4 and that are positively selected, with a dN/dS ratio of 1.8. Thus, M3 is a class I-b gene in both sigmodontine and murine murids, but positive selection operates on a small subset of residues in the traditionally defined antigen recognition site.