The rhesus macaque model is a useful experimental system to evaluate effects of T-cell autotransfusion and gene therapies for HIV-1 infection and AIDS prior to a clinical trial. To obtain sufficient numbers of primary macaque CD4 T lymphocytes for this purpose, we examined the culture conditions that were needed to optimize ex vivo activation and expansion of macaque primary CD4-enriched peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). In this report, we compared the effects of various stimulants on cell expansion, surface expression of CCR5 and CXCR4, and levels of transduction with a Moloney leukemia virus (MoLV) vector encoding the phenotypic selection marker truncated human nerve growth factor receptor (deltaNGFR) alone or with the human anti-HIV-1 tat intrabody sFvhutat2. The use of feeder cells strikingly increased the proliferation rate of macaque CD4-enriched PBMCs in vitro. In the presence of an irradiated rhesus macaque B-lymphoblastoid cell line (BLCL), the highest cell expansion over 21 days was achieved with cells activated by Con A (9648-fold), in turn, from high to low, phytohemagglutinin (PHA) (4855-fold), and anti-CD3/CD28-coated beads (2367-fold). Further studies showed that BLCL feeder cells were more effective than human PBMCs (hPBMCs) in promoting proliferation of macaque CD4-enriched PBMCs activated with Con A and anti-CD3/CD28, respectively. The combined use of both BLCL and hPBMC feeder cells did not further increase cell expansion when compared with the use of BLCL cells alone. In addition, the addition of BLCL-conditioned medium (CM) and hPBMC-CM induced cell growth at a rate higher than did the culture medium alone but not as high as with feeder cells. Con A-activated macaque CD4-enriched PBMCs retained 88% of CXCR4 and 39% of CCR5 expression over 17 days compared with PHA-activated cells (50% for CXCR4, 16% for CCR5) and anti-CD3/CD28-activated cells (34% for CXCR4, 37% for CCR5). Finally, PHA, Con A, and CD3/CD28-coated beads supported comparable levels of MoLV transduction. The results should improve the utility of the rhesus macaque model for the testing of T-cell autotransfusion and gene therapies for HIV-1 infection/AIDS.