We have established a recombinant HIV gene transfer system based on transient expression of the HIV packaging functions and a recombinant vector genome in monkey kidney Cos cells. The recombinant HIV retroviral vector introduced the neoR gene into CD4+ cells with high efficiency, comparable to that achieved with the highest titer amphotropic murine recombinant retrovirus. Vector preparations were devoid of replication competent, infectious HIV. Gene transfer was dependent on CD4 expression, as shown by expression of the CD4 gene in HeLa cells, and could be inhibited by soluble CD4. This specific and efficient gene transfer system may be useful for development of gene therapy for which T cells are the desired targets.