Ecklonia cava (EC), which is an edible marine brown alga with a broad range of bioactivities, belongs to the family of Laminariaceae. The bioactive 6,6'-bieckol, one of the main phloroglucinol derivatives naturally occurred from this genus, was isolated and characterized by NMR techniques. For the first time, human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) inhibitory activity of 6,6'-bieckol showed wild inhibition against HIV-1 induced syncytia formation (EC(50) 1.72 microM), lytic effects (EC(50) 1.23 microM), and viral p24 antigen production (EC(50) 1.26 microM), respectively. This result was strongly and clearly supported by the further investigation also, which 6,6'-bieckol selectively inhibited the activity of HIV-1 reverse transcriptase (RT) enzyme with EC(50) of 1.07 microM, as well as HIV-1 entry. Moreover, unlike most of other tannins, 6,6'-bieckol exhibited no cytotoxicity at concentrations which inhibited HIV-1 replication almost completely. Thus, it can be suggested that the potentially effective 6,6'-bieckol might be employed as a drug candidate for development of new generation therapeutic agents against HIV.