Previous studies have demonstrated that infection with HIV-1 clades might differentially contribute to the neuropathogenesis of HIV-1-associated dementia (HAD). HIV-1 transactivator regulatory protein (Tat) plays a major role in the process of disruption of neuronal function. It is not well understood how these HIV-1 subtypes exert different neuropathogenic effects. Activation of indoleamine-2,3-dioxygenase (IDO), the rate-limiting enzyme of the kynurenine pathway, leads to increased tryptophan catabolism and the generation of neurotoxins such as kynurenine (KYN). It is known that KYN plays a crucial role in the neuropathogenesis of HAD. We hypothesize that HIV-1 clade B and C Tat proteins might exert differential effects on human primary astrocytes by the upregulation of the IDO gene and protein expression as well as its activity and production of the neurotoxin KYN. RNA extracted from human primary astrocytes treated with either HIV-1 clade B and C Tat proteins was reverse transcribed and analyzed by quantitative real-time PCR to determine IDO gene expression. In addition, the enzymatic activity of IDO and the concentration of KYN were measured in cell lysates and culture supernatants. Our results indicate that HIV-1 clade B Tat protein significantly upregulated the IDO gene and protein expression, IDO enzyme activity, as well as KYN concentration compared to HIV-1 clade C Tat protein. Thus, our studies for the first time demonstrate that HIV-1 clade B Tat protein in human primary astrocytes appears to increase the level of neuropathogenic agents, such as IDO and KYN, as compared to HIV-1 clade C Tat protein. These results provide further evidence that the prevalence of HAD may be correlated with the difference in clades of HIV-1.