The pathogenic human retrovirus human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) encodes two trans-acting nuclear proteins, tat and rev, whose functional expression is essential for viral replication in vitro. The tat protein greatly enhances the expression of both structural and regulatory genes of HIV-1 (linked to the viral long-terminal-repeat promoter element), whereas the rev gene product (previously termed art or trs) has only been shown to be required for the synthesis of structural proteins. Here, we demonstrate that rev also moderates the expression of regulatory genes of HIV-1. It decreases the expression of messenger RNAs that encode the full-length form of the viral tat gene product or the rev protein itself, and induces the synthesis of a previously unreported, truncated tat protein. These actions of rev are mediated by a dramatic shift in the ratio of spliced to unspliced cytoplasmic HIV-1 mRNA. Therefore rev not only activates the synthesis of the viral structural proteins, but also modulates the level and quality of HIV-1 regulatory gene expression.