The effects of the C-C chemokines RANTES (regulation upon activation normal T-cell expressed and secreted) and MCP-3 (monocyte chemotactic protein 3) on human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) replication in normal human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) activated in vitro with phytohemagglutinin (PHA) were investigated. The following T-cell line-tropic (T-tropic) HIV strains were tested: HIV type 1 (HIV-1) SF-2, HIV-1 IIIB, HIV-1 MN, HIV-1 NDK, HIV-1 HE, HIV-1 NL4-3, HIV-2 ROD, and HIV-2 EHO. The strain most sensitive to the antiviral effects of RANTES and MCP-3 appeared to be HIV-1 SF-2. A 50% inhibitory concentration for HIV-1 SF-2 of 4 ng of RANTES per ml was obtained, and that of MCP-3 was about 1 ng/ml. However, MCP-3 was inactive at 100 ng/ml. Other HIV-1 strains, such as MN and HE, were less sensitive to the antiviral effects of RANTES and MCP-3, whereas all the other HIV strains tested were insensitive. Although the ratio of CD3+ CD4+ to CD3+ CD8+ T cells was the same in HIV-infected PBMC cultures treated or untreated with the chemokines, RANTES and MCP-3 interfered with the binding of monoclonal antibody (MAb) OKT4 to the CD4 receptor on T cells but not with the binding of MAb OKT4A. Therefore, RANTES and MCP-3 not only interfere with the HIV-induced fusion process but also have some modulating effect on the CD4 cell receptor. The chemokines did not affect HIV-1 binding to PHA-stimulated PBMC. Taken together, our observations point to the important role that both RANTES and MCP-3 may play in inhibiting HIV-1 replication of certain T-tropic strains in primary PBMC cultures. This may have important implications for immunotherapeutic strategies designed to slow down disease progression in AIDS.