An evolutionary analysis of self peptides reported to be bound by HLA class I molecules showed that these peptides are largely derived from proteins that have been highly conserved in the history of mammals. These proteins also often have universal tissue expression and have a higher than average frequency of highly hydrophilic residues. The peptides themselves are generally still more highly conserved than the source proteins and have a higher frequency of highly hydrophobic residues, evidently often being derived from conserved hydrophobic cores of the source proteins. These results suggest that the mechanism by which peptides are derived for MHC presentation may preferentially select peptides from conserved protein regions. In the case of parasite-derived peptides, such a mechanism would be adaptive in that it would reduce the likelihood of escape mutants.