H2-M3 is an MHC class Ib molecule of the mouse with a unique preference for N-formylated peptides, which may come from the N-termini of endogenous, mitochondrial proteins or foreign, bacterial proteins. The crystal structure of M3 revealed a hydrophobic peptide-binding groove with an occluded A pocket and the peptide shifted one residue relative to class Ia structures. The formyl group is held by a novel hydrogen bonding network, involving His9 on the bottom of the groove, and the side chain of the P1 methionine is lodged in the B pocket. M3 is a full-service histocompatibility (H) antigen, i.e. self-M3 can present endogenous peptides as minor H antigens and foreign, bacterial antigens in a defensive immune response to infection; and foreign M3 complexed with endogenous self-peptides.