Tetrahydroimidazo[4,5,1-jk][1,4]benzodiazepin-2(1H)-one and -thione (TIBO) derivatives (e.g., R82150) are potent, human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1)-specific, inhibitors of reverse transcriptase (RT) that are undergoing initial evaluation in clinical trials. Because HIV-1 has become resistant to other RT inhibitors, we investigated the potential for viral resistance to TIBO R82150 by serial in vitro passage of HIV-1IIIB in the presence of drug. R82150-resistant variants (> 100-fold increase in IC50) dominated the replicating virus population after only three or four passages. R82150-resistant virus was partially cross-resistant to other HIV-1-specific RT inhibitors, including nevirapine (approximately 10-fold increase in IC50) and 1-[(2-hydroxyethoxy)methyl]-6-(phenylthio)thymine (approximately 3.5-fold increase) but remained susceptible to 2',3'-dideoxynucleosides and phosphonoformate. DNA sequencing of cloned resistant RT, combined with site-specific mutational analyses and construction of mutant recombinant proviruses, demonstrated that a single, conservative amino acid substitution (Leu100 to Ile) in HIV-1 RT is responsible for high level R82150 resistance and partial nevirapine resistance. These studies indicate that a subtle mutation in HIV-1 RT can dramatically affect viral susceptibility to an HIV-1-specific RT inhibitor. The clinical efficacy of TIBO derivatives and other HIV-1-specific RT inhibitors may be limited by the emergence of drug-resistant viral strains.