Killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIRs) play an important role in the activation of natural killer (NK) cells, which in turn contribute to the effective immune control of many viral infections. In the context of HIV infection, the closely related KIR3DL1 and KIR3DS1 molecules in particular have been associated with disease outcome. Inhibitory signals via KIR3DL1 are disrupted by downregulation of HLA class I ligands on the infected cell surface and can also be impacted by changes in the presented peptide repertoire. In contrast, the activatory ligands for KIR3DS1 remain obscure. We used a structure-driven approach to define the characteristics of HLA class I-restricted peptides that interact with KIR3DL1 and KIR3DS1. In the case of HLA-B*57:01, we used this knowledge to identify bone fide HIV-derived peptide epitopes with similar properties. Two such peptides facilitated productive interactions between HLA-B*57:01 and KIR3DS1. These data reveal the presence of KIR3DS1 ligands within the HIV-specific peptide repertoire presented by a protective HLA class I allotype, thereby enhancing our mechanistic understanding of the processes that enable NK cells to impact disease outcome. IMPORTANCE: Natural killer (NK) cells are implicated as determinants of immune control in many viral infections, but the precise molecular mechanisms that initiate and control these responses are unclear. The activating receptor KIR3DS1 in combination with HLA-Bw4 has been associated with better outcomes in HIV infection. However, evidence of a direct interaction between these molecules is lacking. In this study, we demonstrate that KIR3DS1 recognition of HLA-Bw4 is peptide-dependent. We also identify HIV-derived peptide epitopes presented by the protective HLA-B*57:01 allotype that facilitate productive interactions with KIR3DS1. Collectively, these findings suggest a mechanism whereby changes in the peptide repertoire associated with viral infection provide a trigger for KIR3DS1 engagement and NK cell activation.