The capacity of T cells to bind peptide/MHC ligands changes with T cell development and differentiation. Here we study changes in peptide/MHC multimer binding following T cell activation. Surprisingly, T cell activation caused a marked reduction in specific peptide/MHC Class I multimer binding, which was distinct from transient TCR down-regulation, and was especially dramatic for engagement with low-affinity peptide/MHC ligands. Direct CD8-Class I interactions were also profoundly and rapidly impaired following T cell stimulation, even though surface CD8alpha and CD8beta levels were unchanged after activation, suggesting that decreased CD8 co-receptor binding contributes to this effect. Finally, we show that enzymatic desialylation restores much of the multimer binding on activated T cells, suggesting that altered glycosylation may inhibit TCR/CD8 binding to peptide/MHC ligands. These radical changes in activated T cells' ability to perceive peptide/MHC ligands may contribute to selective outgrowth of clones with high affinity for the stimulatory ligand.