The γ-herpesviruses are characterized by their ability to establish lifelong latency. Subsequent immune suppression leads to viral reactivation from latency and the onset of a variety of pathologies, including lymphoproliferative disease and cancers. CD8 T cells play a key role in preventing reactivation of latent virus. Therefore, to develop effective therapeutic immune strategies, it is essential to understand the maintenance of CD8 T cell responses during latency. Because the γ-herpesviruses are highly species-specific and mice cannot be infected with the human pathogens, EBV or Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus, we have used a natural rodent γ-herpesvirus experimental infection model, γ-herpesvirus-68. In this report, we show that during long-term latent infection, naive CD8 T cells are recruited into the ongoing immune response in an epitope-specific manner. When virus reactivation is induced in vivo, the recruitment of CD8 T cells for some, but not all, epitopes is enhanced. The variation in recruitment is not due to differences in epitope presentation. We also show that CD8 T cells that are newly stimulated during reactivation are functionally impaired compared with acutely stimulated cells in terms of cytokine production. Thus, our results demonstrate unexpected complexity in the response of CD8 T cells specific for different viral epitopes that were stimulated during acute infection, quiescent latency, and reactivation.