Vacuolar myelopathy is a common neurological complication in AIDS patients. The pathogenesis of this spinal cord white matter disease remains unclear and it is still debated whether infection of spinal cord with the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) is causing the disease. We have generated transgenic mice expressing the entire HIV-1 genome under the regulation of an oligodendrocyte-specific promoter. These mice develop spinal cord vacuolar lesions similar to those found in AIDS patients. This animal model provides in vivo evidence linking the expression of HIV-1 proteins in oligodendrocytes to the spinal cord damage found in vacuolar myelopathy.