Selection of earthquake ground motions is considered with the goal of accurately estimating the response of a structure at a specified ground motion intensity, as measured by spectral acceleration at the first-mode period of the structure, Sa(T1). Consideration is given to the magnitude, distance and epsilon (ε) values of ground motions. First, it is seen that selecting records based on their ε values is more effective than selecting records based on magnitude and distance. Second, a method is discussed for finding the conditional response spectrum of a ground motion, given a level of Sa(T1) and its associated mean (disaggregation-based) causal magnitude, distance and ε value. Records can then be selected to match the mean of this target spectrum, and the same benefits are achieved as when records are selected based on ε. This mean target spectrum differs from a Uniform Hazard Spectrum, and it is argued that this new spectrum is a more appropriate target for record selection. When properly selecting records based on either spectral shape or ε, the reductions in bias and variance of resulting structural response estimates are comparable to the reductions achieved by using a vector-valued measure of earthquake intensity. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.