HIV-infected individuals, who received 3TC monotherapy over one year, generally had lower plasma viral burden than at base-line. This was in spite of high-level resistance to this compound and the appearance of the M184V substitution in the HIV reverse transcriptase (RT) gene, responsible for diminished sensitivity to 3TC. This apparent contradiction is explained by an increase in the fidelity of the HIV RT, conferred by the M184V mutation, on the basis of the following observations. First, titers of viral neutralizing antibodies, as measured against sequential autologous HIV isolates, remained stable in this population in contrast to rapid declines in patients treated with other drugs. This suggests that increased fidelity of M184V RT may limit variability in the HIV env gene and result in protracted effectiveness of anti-viral immune responsiveness. Second, recombinant HIV, that contained the M184V substitution in RT, could not replicate in the presence of d4T, AZT, Nevirapine, Delavirdine or Saquinavir, using previously described protocols for the generation of drug resistance in vitro.