We examined the kinetic interaction of purified recombinant DNA-derived human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) reverse transcriptase with R82150, a member of the tetrahydroimidazo[4,5,1-jk]-[1,4]-benzodiazepin-2(1H)-thione family of compounds (Pauwels, R., Andries, K., Desmyter, J., Schols, D., Kukla, M.J., Breslin, H.J., Raeymaeckers, A., Van Gelder, J., Woestenborghs, R., Heykants, J., Schellekens, K., Janssen, M.A.C., De Clercq, E., and Janssen, P.A.J. (1990) Nature 343, 470-474). R82150 inhibited noncompetitively the utilization of homopolymeric and heteropolymeric template-primers (KI range 280-300 nM). Inhibition of dNTP substrate incorporation was also noncompetitive (KI range 100-890 nM). In contrast, 100 microM R82150 did not inhibit human DNA polymerases alpha, beta, or gamma. Gel electrophoresis was used to analyze the effect of inhibitors on extension of heteropolymeric template-primers by HIV-1 reverse transcriptase. ddCTP induced accumulation of partially extended primers which had been terminated at sites requiring incorporation of deoxycytidylate. Competing template-primers reduced accumulation of both fully and partially extended primers. In contrast, R82150 induced accumulation of shortened primers that were terminated at various sites that did not correspond to any one particular deoxynucleotide species. Our results suggest that R82150 does not interact with HIV-1 reverse transcriptase as an analog of either template-primer or deoxynucleoside triphosphate substrate, but may bind allosterically at a site unique to this replicase.