The emergence of drug-resistant variants during antiretroviral therapy is a serious obstacle to sustained suppression of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). For that reason, resistance assays are essential to guide clinicians in the selection of optimal treatment regimens. Genotypic assays are less expensive and results are available faster than phenotypic assays. However, in heavily experienced patients with multiple treatment failures interpretation of complex mutation patterns remains difficult, and in these cases phenotypic assays are recommended. This report describes a novel recombinant virus assay where protease (PR) and reverse transcriptase (RT) sequences derived from the plasma isolated from patients are introduced into the back-bone of an HIV molecular clone that expresses Renilla luciferase protein in the place of nef gene. All drug resistance profiles analyzed correlate with previously reported data and showed high reproducibility. This assay, in addition to a fast (completed in 10 days), precise, reproducible and automated method, presents several advantages as compared to other phenotypic assays. The system described below allows the generation of recombinant viruses with multiples cycles of replication carrying a reporter gene in their genomes. These features increase the sensitivity of the test, an important aspect to be considered in the evaluation of less fit viral isolates. In conclusion, the assay permits the quantitation of the level of resistance of clinical HIV-1 isolates to PR and RT inhibitors.