There is growing interest in the use of innate immune reactions in the therapy and prophylaxis of various diseases. Natural T (NT) lymphocytes that recognize infected cells or microbial compounds without the classical genetic restriction by polymorphic MHC molecules are crucial components of innate immunity. NT cells bearing the Vgamma9Vdelta2 T-cell receptor (TCR) are broadly reactive against intracellular pathogens, can lyse human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infected cells, and release cytokines capable of regulating HIV replication. The potent antiviral activities of Vgamma9Vdelta2 T cells may help to contain viral spread during acute HIV infection and/or to prevent the establishment of viral persistence. Substantial changes in the composition and function of circulating gammadelta T-cell pools occur in HIV-infected patients. These changes a) may contribute to the etiopathogenesis of opportunistic infections and neoplasms, and b) are partly reversed by highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART). In addition to direct antiviral activities, activated gammadelta T cells influence dendritic cell maturation and the adaptive alphabeta T-cell response. Vgamma9Vdelta2 T cells can be stimulated in vivo and in vitro by various nonpeptidic antigens (NpAgs) and recent animal experimental data suggest that activated Vgamma9Vdelta2 T cells may help to control SIV replication. Currently, NpAgs are being assessed as potential therapeutic agents in AIDS, tuberculosis and certain cancers susceptible to Vgamma9Vdelta2 T-cell effector mechanisms.