A possible role of DNA methylation as a factor in HIV latency was studied by methylating a HIV1-LTR-CAT plasmid in vitro and measuring its expression after transfection on Vero cells. Methylation with a eukaryotic DNA methylase resulted in a 70% inhibition of chloramphenicol acetyltransferase expression, in the absence as well as in the presence of the HIV1 trans-activator protein TAT in the cell. A similar degree of transcription inhibition was obtained by methylation of the only Hpa II site at position-143 in the HIV1-LTR with the bacterial Hpa II methylase. In contrast to the effect by eukaryotic methylation, the inhibition by Hpa II methylation could be partially reversed by cotransfection of the TAT gene. The reason may lie in an about 40% demethylation at the Hpa II site which was concomitantly observed.