The T cell surface molecule CD4 interacts with class II MHC molecules on the surface of target cells as well as with the envelope glycoprotein of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Internalization of CD4 molecules is observed after exposure of CD4+ T cells to either phorbol esters or appropriate antigen-bearing target cells. To determine whether HIV entry proceeds via receptor-mediated endocytosis or direct viral fusion with the cell membrane, we have constructed two mutants in the cytoplasmic domain of the CD4 protein that severely impair the ability of CD4 molecules to undergo endocytosis. Quantitative infectivity studies reveal that HeLa cell lines expressing wild-type or mutant CD4 molecules are equally susceptible to HIV infection. In addition, HIV binding does not lead to CD4 endocytosis. These studies indicate that although the CD4 molecule can be internalized, HIV entry proceeds via direct fusion of the viral envelope with the cell membrane.