The [2',5'-bis-O-(tert-butyldimethylsilyl)]-3'-spiro-5''-(4''-amino- 1'',2''-oxathiole-2'',2''-dioxide) (TSAO) derivatives of ribofuranosylthymine, uridine, 5-bromouridine, 5-methylcytidine, inosine, and adenosine are potent and selective inhibitors of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) but not of other retroviruses (HIV-2, simian immunodeficiency virus, or Moloney murine sarcoma virus). The 50% effective concentration (EC50) of the most active TSAO congeners for inhibition of HIV-1 replication ranged from 0.034 to 0.44 microgram/ml. The 50% cytotoxic concentration (CC50) affecting the viability of MT-4 cells ranged from 2.35 to 18 micrograms/ml. The TSAO thymine derivative proved to be a highly selective inhibitor of HIV-1 reverse transcriptase but not of HIV-2 reverse transcriptase and DNA polymerase alpha. Introduction of an alkyl or alkenyl function at N3 of the thymine ring markedly decreased cytotoxicity but did not affect the antiviral activity of the compounds. The most potent (EC50, 0.034 microgram/ml) and most selective (CC50/EC50, 4088) inhibitor of HIV-1 replication proved to be the N3-methyl derivative of (1-[2',5'-bis-O-(tert-butyldimethylsilyl)beta-D-ribofuranosyl]thymine)- 3'-spiro-5''-(4''-amino-1'',2''-oxathiole-2'',2''-dioxide). This compound should be considered as a promising drug candidate for the treatment of HIV-1 infections.