The genetic diversity of circulating HIV-1 strains poses a major barrier to the design, development and evaluation of HIV-1 vaccines. The assessment of both vaccine- and natural infection-elicited T cell responses is commonly done with multivalent peptides that are designed to maximally capture the diversity of potential T cell epitopes (PTEs) observed in natural circulating sequences. However, depending on the sequence diversity of viral subtypes and number of the HIV immunogens under investigation, PTE estimates, including HLA-guided computational methods, can easily generate enormous peptide libraries. Evaluation of T cell epitope specificity using such extensive peptide libraries is usually limited by sample availability, even for high-throughput and robust epitope mapping techniques like ELISpot assays. Here we describe a novel, two-step protocol for in-vitro polyclonal expansion of CD8 T cells from a single vial of frozen PBMC, which facilitated the screening 441 HIV-1 Gag peptides for immune responses among 32 HIV-1 positive subjects and 40 HIV-1 negative subjects for peptide qualification. Using a pooled-peptide mapping strategy, epitopes were mapped in two sequential ELISpot assays; the first ELISpot screened 33 large peptide pools using CD8 T cells expanded for 7 days, while the second step tested pool-matrix peptides to identify individual peptides using CD8 T cells expanded for 10 days. These comprehensive epitope screening established the breadth and magnitude of HIV-1 Gag-specific CD8 T cellsand further revealed the extent of immune responses to variable/polymorphic epitopes.