The chemokine receptors CCR5 and CXCR4 function as the principal coreceptors for human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). Coreceptor function has also been demonstrated for a variety of related receptors in vitro. The relative contributions of CCR5, CXCR4, and other putative coreceptors to HIV-1 disease in vivo have yet to be defined. In this study, we used sequential primary isolates and recombinant strains of HIV-1 to demonstrate that CXCR4-using (X4) viruses emerging in association with disease progression are highly pathogenic in ex vivo lymphoid tissues compared to CXCR4-independent viruses. Furthermore, synthetic receptor antagonists that specifically block CXCR4-mediated entry dramatically suppressed the depletion of CD4(+) T cells by recombinant and clinically derived X4 HIV-1 isolates. Moreover, in vitro specificity for the additional coreceptors CCR3, CCR8, BOB, and Bonzo did not augment cytopathicity or diminish sensitivity toward CXCR4 antagonists in lymphoid tissues. These data provide strong evidence to support the concept that adaptation to CXCR4 specificity in vivo accelerates HIV-1 disease progression. Thus, therapeutic intervention targeting the interaction of HIV-1 gp120 with CXCR4 may be highly valuable for suppressing the pathogenic effects of late-stage viruses.