9-(2-phosphonomethoxypropyl)adenine (PMPA) has demonstrated remarkable anti-simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) activity in macaque models of SIV infection and transmission prevention. Recently, PMPA and its oral prodrug, bis-POC PMPA, have also shown potent anti-human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) activity in Phase I clinical studies. In vitro experiments were performed to address the resistance properties of PMPA. After eight passages in increasing concentrations of PMPA, HIV-1IIIB was able to grow in the presence of 2 microM PMPA, fivefold above the IC50 of PMPA for wild-type parental virus. Sequence analysis of the reverse transcriptase (RT) genes from four of 15 RT clones demonstrated the presence of a K65R substitution in RT and recombinant HIV expressing the K65R RT mutation showed a threefold to fourfold increase in IC50 value for PMPA as compared to wild-type. Additional experiments demonstrated that viruses expressing other nucleoside-associated RT resistance mutations all showed wild-type or < threefold reduced susceptibility to PMPA in vitro. Interestingly, lamivudine-resistant viruses expressing the M184V RT mutation showed wild-type to slightly increased susceptibility to PMPA in vitro and addition of the M184V mutation to HIV with the K65R mutation resulted in reversion to wild-type susceptibility for PMPA. In agreement with the cell culture findings, Escherichia coli-expressed K65R RT showed fivefold reduced susceptibility to PMPA diphosphate, the active moiety of PMPA. Furthermore, in combination experiments, PMPA with hydroxyurea showed synergistic inhibition of HIV replication in vitro. The potent antiretroviral activity and favourable resistance profile of PMPA and bis-POC PMPA are being further investigated in ongoing clinical trials.