The role of specific members of the NF-κB family of transcription factors in CD8 T-cell selection and development is largely unknown. Here, we show that mice lacking NF-κB1 develop a unique population of conventional CD8 single-positive (SP) thymocytes with memory T cell-like properties that populate peripheral immune organs. Development of this memory-like population is not due to PLZF(+) thymocytes and instead coincides with changes in CD8 T-cell selection. These include a reduction in the efficiency of negative selection and a dependence on MHC class Ia or Ib expressed by haematopoietic cells. These findings indicate that NF-κB1 regulates multiple events in the thymus that collectively inhibit the excess development of CD8(+) thymocytes with memory cell characteristics.