Previous studies have demonstrated that oligodeoxynucleotide phosphorothioates complementary to human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) RNA are more nuclease resistant and are effective inhibitors of HIV-1 replication than their unmodified counterpart. In this study, antisense oligodeoxynucleotide sequences were evaluated for therapeutic potential in the treatment of HIV infections. The use of HIV-infected lymphocytes to test the efficacy of a drug is very complex, and therefore it is difficult to draw conclusions about the mechanism. We used a COS-like Monkey kidney cell line (CMT3) stably transfected with plasmids pCMVgagpol-rre-r (containing gag and pol genes) and pCMVrev (containing the rev gene of HIV-1), derived from cDNA clone BH10, as a model. A biologically active provirus that transcribes and translates their nucleotide sequences into viral proteins p24, p39/41, p55, and p160 was generated. Sequence-specific and dose-dependent inhibition of HIV-1 viral protein synthesis and significant inhibition at the mRNA level were demonstrated by antisense construct GPI2A, directed against a nonregulatory region of the HIV-1 genome. Also, our studies demonstrated enhancement of the antisense effect through encapsulation in a cationic lipid preparation. The observed attenuation of HIV-1 mRNA levels suggests that, at least in part, the mechanism of action of GPI2A was at the transcript level. Further studies have also shown antiviral activity of this construct as determined by the reverse transcriptase assay using acutely and chronically infected cells of lymphoid origin (H9 cells). Toxicological studies involving cell growth characteristics, colony-forming ability, effects on cellular proteins, specific activities of labeled proteins, and DNA synthesis in cell culture showed no cytotoxic effects of GPI2A.