Antiviral agents are the primary therapy for patients infected with HIV-1. However, supportive therapies are often necessary in addition to antiviral drugs because of the devastating wasting process associated with HIV-1 infection and AIDS. Oxandrolone, an anabolic steroid, is used in promoting weight gain and, most important lean body mass (LBM), in patients with HIV-1 disease. We investigated whether oxandrolone interferes with the antiviral activity of zidovudine (ZDV), dideoxyinosine (ddI), and dideoxycytidine (ddC) on HIV-1 replication in peripheral blood lymphocytes and macrophage-monocytes. The nucleoside analogues had nanomolar 50% inhibitory concentrations (IC50) in peripheral lymphocytes. Combinations of nucleoside analogues and oxandrolone did not result in increased IC50 values. Oxandrolone used alone exhibited micromolar IC50 values in peripheral blood lymphocytes. Lack of interference was consistent for nucleoside concentrations up to 5 microM and for oxandrolone concentrations up to 100 microM in several combinations of drugs, viral strains, and peripheral lymphocytes and macrophages. We conclude that oxandrolone can be used for the promotion of weight gain in patients with AIDS-related wasting without interference with the antiviral effects of ZDV, ddI, or ddC.