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Here we describe a detailed quantitative peptide-binding motif for the common equine leukocyte antigen (ELA) class I allele Eqca-1*00101, present in roughly 25 % of Thoroughbred horses. We determined a preliminary binding motif by sequencing endogenously bound ligands. Subsequently, a positional scanning combinatorial library (PSCL) was used to further characterize binding specificity and derive a quantitative motif involving aspartic acid in position 2 and hydrophobic residues at the C-terminus. Using this motif, we selected and tested 9- and 10-mer peptides derived from the equine herpesvirus type 1 (EHV-1) proteome for their capacity to bind Eqca-1*00101. PSCL predictions were very efficient, with an receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve performance of 0.877, and 87 peptides derived from 40 different EHV-1 proteins were identified with affinities of 500 nM or higher. Quantitative analysis revealed that Eqca-1*00101 has a narrow peptide-binding repertoire, in comparison to those of most human, non-human primate, and mouse class I alleles. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from six EHV-1-infected, or vaccinated but uninfected, Eqca-1*00101-positive horses were used in IFN-γ enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) assays. When we screened the 87 Eqca-1*00101-binding peptides for T cell reactivity, only one Eqca-1*00101 epitope, derived from the intermediate-early protein ICP4, was identified. Thus, despite its common occurrence in several horse breeds, Eqca-1*00101 is associated with a narrow binding repertoire and a similarly narrow T cell response to an important equine viral pathogen. Intriguingly, these features are shared with other human and macaque major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules with a similar specificity for D in position 2 or 3 in their main anchor motif.