Impairment of the response of HIV-specific CD8(+) T cells, in spite of the high frequency of occurrence of these cells even in the advanced phase of HIV-1 infection, has been demonstrated. It is also known that new antiretroviral treatments are able to reduce the viral load and partially repair the immunological damage caused by HIV-1, but it is not clear whether the extent of these changes affects the functional profile of HIV-specific CD8(+) T cells. We evaluated, in HIV-1(+) patients undergoing antiretroviral therapy, the HIV-specific CD8(+) subset distribution and their functional capacity as intracellular expression of IFN-gamma, TNF-alpha, and perforin after PMA stimulation. Our results indicate that HIV-1(+)-treated individuals show distributions of HIV-specific CD8 subsets similar to nontreated patients, while the frequency of HIV-specific CD8 cells expressing IFN-gamma and perforin after stimulation is lower in HAART-treated patients. This indicates that HAART, which controls viral replication, may impair the HIV-specific CD8(+) response.