APJ, a G protein-coupled seven-transmembrane receptor, has been shown to serve as a co-receptor for the entry of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), and it is dramatically expressed in central nervous system (CNS)-based cells. ALX40-4C was identified as a small-molecule antagonist of the chemokine receptor CXCR4, which can specifically inhibit HIV-1 entry via this co-receptor. In this study, we demonstrated that ALX40-4C inhibited both APJ- and CXCR4/APJ-mediated cell membrane fusion in a dose-dependent manner. In competitive binding assays, (125)I-Apelin13 was replaced by ALX40-4C with an IC(50) of 2.9 microM, as compared with an IC(50) of 0.2 nM for Apelin13. Furthermore, ALX40-4C could block ligand-induced APJ internalization and signaling. ALX40-4C, as an antagonist to APJ, directly binds to and prevents use of APJ as a HIV-1 co-receptor. Thus, ALX-4C has potential utility for further elucidation of HIV-1 neuropathogenesis and therapy of HIV-1-induced encephalopathy.