Nelfinavir (Viracept) is an orally administered protease inhibitor. In combination with other antiretroviral drugs (usually nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors [NRTIs]), nelfinavir produces substantial and sustained reductions in viral load in patients with HIV infection. Nelfinavir may be used in the treatment of adults, adolescents and children aged >or=2 years with HIV infection. It can also be used in pregnancy. Resistance to nelfinavir may develop, but the most common mutation (D30N, appearing mainly in HIV-1 subtype B) does not confer resistance to other protease inhibitors, thereby conserving these agents for later use. Although less effective than lopinavir/ritonavir, the preferred first-line treatment in US guidelines, nelfinavir is positioned as an alternative agent for the treatment of adults and adolescents with HIV infection and is an option for those unable to tolerate other protease inhibitors. Nelfinavir also has a role in the management of pregnant patients as well as paediatric patients with HIV infection.