The T-cell response to even complex pathogens is often focused on only a handful of immunodominant determinants. Such narrow responses provoke a selective pressure that can drive the emergence of CTL escape variants, raising the question of whether a broader response, targeting multiple non-dominant peptides may be more beneficial. To examine the ability of the T-cell repertoire to respond to non-dominant determinants, we have investigated how mutating the dominant peptide in HSV affects the magnitude of the CD8+ T-cell response. We found that the CTL response to HSV lacking the dominant peptide was only modestly reduced compared with the wild-type virus and, surprisingly, this compensation occurred without any enhancement in the response to an established minor epitope. These findings are supportive of a malleable T-cell repertoire that can elicit strong responses to alternate, unknown determinants in the absence of the dominant response.