We describe a new human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) mutational pattern associated with phenotypic resistance to lamivudine (3TC) in the absence of the characteristic replacement of methionine by valine at position 184 (M184V) of reverse transcriptase. Combined genotypic and phenotypic analyses of clinical isolates revealed the presence of moderate levels of phenotypic resistance (between 4- and 50-fold) to 3TC in a subset of isolates that did not harbor the M184V mutation. Mutational cluster analysis and comparison with the phenotypic data revealed a significant correlation between moderate phenotypic 3TC resistance and an increased incidence of replacement of glutamic acid by aspartic acid or alanine and of valine by isoleucine at residues 44 and 118 of reverse transcriptase, respectively. This occurred predominantly in those isolates harboring zidovudine resistance-associated mutations (41L, 215Y). The requirement of the combination of mutations 41L and 215Y with mutations 44D and 44A and/or 118I for phenotypic 3TC resistance was confirmed by site-directed mutagenesis experiments. These data support the assumption that HIV-1 may have access to several different genetic pathways to escape drug pressure or that the increase in the frequency of particular mutations may affect susceptibility to drugs that have never been part of a particular regimen.