The extraordinarily high mutation rate of HIV suggests that the viral population exists near the threshold for viral viability. An increase in mutation could mediate a lethal increase in the already high proportion of defective viruses. We initially tested this hypothesis by culturing HIV-infected cells in mutagenic deoxyribonucleoside analogs. In the presence of 5-hydroxydeoxycytidine, there was a loss of viral replication after sequential passages of HIV in human CEM cells (Loeb LA, et al.: Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 1999;96:14921497). We now propose to use mutagenic ribonucleosides to induce lethal mutagenesis. The incorporation of mutagenic analogs into the HIV genome by the host cell RNA polymerase, rather than by the viral reverse transcriptase, augurs well for the avoidance of resistant viruses.