China is a region of the world with a rapidly spreading HIV-1 epidemic. Studies providing insights into HIV-1 pathogenesis in infected Chinese are urgently needed to support the design and testing of an effective HIV-1 vaccine for this population. HIV-1-specific T cell responses were characterized in 32 HIV-1-infected individuals of Chinese origin and compared to 34 infected caucasians using 410 overlapping peptides spanning the entire HIV-1 clade B consensus sequence in an IFN-gamma ELISpot assay. All HIV-1 proteins were targeted with similar frequency in both populations and all study subjects recognized at least one overlapping peptide. HIV-1-specific T cell responses clustered in seven different regions of the HIV-1 genome in the Chinese cohort and in nine different regions in the caucasian cohort. The dominant HLA class I alleles expressed in the two populations differed significantly, and differences in epitope clustering pattern were shown to be influenced by differences in class I alleles that restrict immunodominant epitopes. These studies demonstrate that the clustering of HIV-1-specific T cell responses is influenced by the genetic HLA class I background in the study populations. The design and testing of candidate vaccines to fight the rapidly growing HIV-1 epidemic must therefore take the HLA genetics of the population into account as specific regions of the virus can be expected to be differentially targeted in ethnically diverse populations.