Dendritic cells and macrophages can process extracellular antigens for presentation by MHC-I molecules. This exogenous pathway may have a crucial role in the activation of CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes during human viral infections. We show here that HIV-1 epitopes derived from incoming virions are presented through the exogenous MHC-I pathway in primary human dendritic cells, and to a lower extent in macrophages, leading to cytotoxic T-lymphocyte activation in the absence of viral protein synthesis. Exogenous antigen presentation required adequate virus-receptor interactions and fusion of viral and cellular membranes. These results provide new insights into how anti-HIV cytotoxic T lymphocytes can be activated and have implications for anti-HIV vaccine design.