Human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1) is the aetiological agent of AIDS. The virus establishes lytic, latent and non-cytopathic productive infection in cells in culture. The complexity of virus-host cell interaction is reflected in the complex organization of the viral genome. In addition to the genes that encode the virion capsid and envelope proteins and the enzymes required for proviral synthesis and integration common to all retroviruses, HIV-1 is known to encode at least four additional proteins that regulate virus replication, the tat, art, sor and 3' orf proteins, as well as a protein of unknown function from the open reading frame called R. Close examination of the nucleic acid sequences of the genomes of multiple HIV isolates raised the possibility that the virus encodes a previously undetected additional protein. Here we report that HIV-1 encodes a ninth protein and that antibodies to this protein are detected in the sera of people infected with HIV-1. This protein distinguishes HIV-1 isolates from the other human and simian immunodeficiency viruses (HIV-2 and SIV) that do not have the capacity to encode a similar protein.