The proteases expressed by the HIV-1 and HIV-2 viruses process the polyproteins encoded by the viral genomes into the mature proteins required for virion replication and assembly. Eight analogs of haloperidol have been synthesized that cause time-dependent inactivation of the HIV-1 protease and, in six cases, HIV-2 protease. The IC50 values for the analogues are comparable to that of haloperidol itself. Enzyme inactivation is due to the presence of an epoxide in two of the analogues and carbonyl-conjugated double or triple bonds in the others. Irreversible inactivation is confirmed by the failure to recover activity when one of the inhibitors is removed from the medium. At pH 8.0, the agents inactivate the HIV-1 protease 4-80 times more rapidly than the HIV-2 protease. Faster inactivation of the HIV-1 protease is consistent with alkylation of cysteine residues because the HIV-1 protease has four such residues whereas the HIV-2 protease has none. Inactivation of the HIV-2 protease requires modification of non-cysteine residues. The similarities in the rates of inactivation of the HIV-2 protease by six agents that have intrinsically different reactivities toward nucleophiles suggest that the rate-limiting step in the inactivation process is not the alkylation reaction itself. At least five of the agents inhibit polyprotein processing in an ex vivo cell assay system, but they are also toxic to the cells.