Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has been isolated from plasma in 6 of 7 patients showing clinical symptoms of a primary HIV infection. Parallel cultures from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) yielded virus in 5 patients. In one case, virus could only be isolated from the cerebrospinal fluid but not from peripheral blood. Detectable viremia was transient and preceded the appearance of HIV specific antibodies. After cessation of acute symptoms, the frequency of HIV isolations was similar to that of asymptomatic carriers (23 and 26%, respectively). The role of the immune response in terminating detectable viremia remains to be established.