Selenium is a nutritionally essential trace element that is important for optimal function of the immune system. It is incorporated into selenoproteins as the amino acid selenocysteine and it is known to inhibit the expression of some viruses. In this study, we show that selenium supplementation for 3 days prior to exposure to tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) partially suppresses the induction of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) replication in both chronically infected T lymphocytic and monocytic cell lines. In acute HIV-1 infection of T lymphocytes and monocytes in the absence of exogenous TNF-alpha, the suppressive effect of selenium supplementation was not observed. However, selenium supplementation did suppress the enhancing effect of TNF-alpha on HIV-1 replication in vitro in acutely infected human monocytes, but not in T lymphocytes. Selenium supplementation also increased the activities of the selenoproteins, glutathione peroxidase (GPx) and thioredoxin reductase (TR), which serve as cellular antioxidants. Taken together, these results suggest that selenium supplementation may prove beneficial as an adjuvant therapy for AIDS through reinforcement of endogenous antioxidative systems.