The human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) genome contains 20 exons that are alternatively spliced from 16 splice sites to generate more than 40 different mRNAs, including incompletely spliced and unspliced mRNAs. In contrast to avian retroviral RNA, which has a cis-acting element in gag that negatively regulates splicing (NRS), HIV-1 RNA did not have any NRS sequences in the gag or pol genes detectable by a splicing inhibition assay. However, this assay demonstrated that the HIV-1 first 5' splice site competed with a cellular 5' splice site, suggesting that HIV-1 may have some strong splice sites. To extend this observation, we used a splice site swapping strategy to determine the efficiency of 14 HIV-1 splice sites in human beta globin chimeras tested in transient transfection experiments. While the 1st HIV-1 5' splice site used in all spliced transcripts and the 4th 5' splice site used in most of the 2-kb transcripts were efficient, the other splice sites, including all the 3' splice sites, were less efficient, ranging in use from 25 to 60%. We propose that this range of splice site efficiencies contributes to the regulation of alternative splicing of HIV-1 mRNAs.