Although monocyte chemoattractant protein (MCP-1)/CCL2 is believed to mediate trafficking of HIV-activated leukocytes into the CNS, its role has not been studied directly in humans. To evaluate MCP-1's effects on CNS leukocyte infiltration, we measured CSF leukocytes and MCP-1 levels in serial plasma and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples from subjects who experienced large increases in viral load after interrupting antiretrovirals. Following large increases in CSF MCP-1, CSF leukocytosis (15-166 cells/microL) developed in 4 of 6 subjects. Both initial MCP-1 levels and subsequent changes were 3-fold larger in CSF than plasma. The magnitude and timing of changes suggested that MCP-1 triggers the development of CSF pleocytosis.