For HIV to become infectious, any new virion produced from an infected cell must undergo a maturation process that involves the assembly of viral polyproteins Gag and Gag-Pol at the membrane surface. The self-assembly of these viral proteins drives formation of a new viral particle as well as the activation of HIV protease, which is needed to cleave the polyproteins so that the final core structure of the virus will properly form. Molecules that interfere with HIV maturation will prevent any new virions from infecting additional cells. In this manuscript, we characterize the unique mechanism by which a mercaptobenzamide thioester small molecule (SAMT-247) interferes with HIV maturation via a series of selective acetylations at highly conserved cysteine and lysine residues in Gag and Gag-Pol polyproteins. The results provide the first insights into how acetylation can be utilized to perturb the process of HIV maturation and reveal a new strategy to limit the infectivity of HIV.