Viral infections often induce potent CD8 T cell responses that play a key role in antiviral immunity. After viral clearance, the vast majority of the expanded CD8 T cells undergo apoptosis, leaving behind a stable number of memory cells. The relationship between the CD8 T cells that clear the acute viral infection and the long-lived CD8 memory pool remaining in the individual is not fully understood. To address this issue, we examined the T cell receptor (TCR) repertoire of virus-specific CD8 T cells in the mouse model of infection with lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) using three approaches: (a) in vivo quantitative TCR β chain V segment and complementarily determining region 3 (CDR3) length repertoire analysis by spectratyping (immunoscope); (b) identification of LCMV-specific CD8 T cells with MHC class I tetramers containing viral peptide and costaining with TCR Vβ specific antibodies; and (c) functional TCR fingerprinting based on recognition of variant peptides. We compared the repertoire of CD8 T cells responding to acute primary and secondary LCMV infections, together with that of virus-specific memory T cells in immune mice. Our analysis showed that CD8 T cells from several Vβ families participated in the anti-LCMV response directed to the dominant cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) epitope (NP118-126). However, the bulk (~70%) of this CTL response was due to three privileged T cell populations systematically expanding during LCMV infection. Approximately 30% of the response consisted of V1310+ CD8 T cells with a β chain CDR3 length of nine amino acids, and 40% consisted of Vβ8.1+ (β CDR3 = eight annno acids) and Vβ8.2+ cells (β CDR3 = six amino acids). Finally, we showed that the TCR repertoire of the primary antiviral CD8 T cell response was similar both structurally and functionally to that of the memory pool and the secondary CD8 T cell effectors. These results suggest a stochastic selection of memory cells from the pool of CD8 T cells activated during primary infection.