Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules can be engineered as single chain trimers (SCTs) that sequentially incorporate all three subunits of the fully assembled proteins, namely peptide, β2 microglobulin, and heavy chain. SCTs have been made with many different MHC-peptide complexes and are used as novel diagnostic and therapeutic reagents, as well as probes for diverse biological questions. Here, we review the recent and diverse applications of SCTs. These applications include new approaches to enumerate disease-related T cells, DNA vaccines, eliciting responses to pre-assembled MHC-peptide complexes, and unique probes of lymphocyte development and activation. Future applications of SCTs will be driven by their further engineering and the ever-expanding identification of disease-related peptides using chemical, genetic and computational approaches.