Syncytium formation between HUT-78 cells persistently infected with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and uninfected CD4-bearing MOLT-4 or CEM cells results in a rapid destruction of the MOLT-4 or CEM cells. This syncytium formation is due to the interaction between the gp120 glycoprotein expressed by the persistently HIV-1-infected HUT-78 cells and the CD4 receptor present on MOLT-4 or CEM cells. A flow cytometric method has been applied to separate the infected (HUT-78) from the uninfected (MOLT-4, CEM) cell populations. This method is based on a modified DNA staining protocol which clearly shows the differences in DNA content between HUT-78 cells, on the one hand, and MOLT-4 or CEM cells, on the other hand. Using this flow cytometric method we have demonstrated that those compounds (i.e., sulfated polysaccharides, aurintricarboxylic acid) that interact with gp120 (of the HIV-infected cells) or CD4 (of the uninfected cells) suppress syncytium formation and concomitant destruction of the CD4+ cells.