A highly cytopathic strain of HIV1, named HIV1-NDK, has been isolated from a Zaïrian patient affected with AIDS. This isolate is 10(4) times more cytopathic and infectious than the prototype. To correlate the high cytopathic properties of this strain with genetic variations, we have cloned and sequenced the genome of this isolate. The principal feature which could be drawn from the fine analysis of the HIV1-NDK sequence is that the variability is not clustered in one particular region but rather spread out all along the genome. Only minor differences seem to be responsible for the acute biological effect of HIV1-NDK.