The generation of a robust CD8+ T cell response is an ongoing challenge for the development of DNA vaccines. One problem encountered with classical DNA plasmid immunization is that peptides produced are noncovalently and transiently associated with MHC class I molecules and thus may not durably stimulate CD8+ T cell responses. To address this and enhance the expression and presentation of the antigenic peptide/MHC complexes, we generated single-chain trimers (SCTs) composed of a single polypeptide chain with a linear composition of antigenic peptide, β2-microglobulin, and H chain connected by flexible linkers. In this study, we test whether the preassembled nature of the SCT makes them effective for eliciting protective CD8+ T cell responses against pathogens. A DNA plasmid was constructed encoding an SCT incorporating the human MHC class I molecule HLA-A2 and the immunodominant peptide SVG9 derived from the envelope protein of West Nile virus (WNV). HLA-A2 transgenic mice vaccinated with the DNA encoding the SVG9/HLA-A2 SCT generated a robust epitope-specific CD8+ T cell response and showed enhanced survival rate and lower viral burden in the brain after lethal WNV challenge. Inclusion of a CD4+ Th cell epitope within the SCT did not increase the frequency of SVG9-specific CD8+ T cells, but did enhance protection against WNV challenge. Overall, these findings demonstrate that the SCT platform can induce protective CD8+ T cell responses against lethal virus infection and may be paired with immunogens that elicit robust neutralizing Ab responses to generate vaccines that optimally activate all facets of adaptive immunity.