CXCR4, a seven transmembrane domain G-protein-coupled receptor for the Cys-X-Cys class of chemokines, is one of several chemokine receptors that can act as a co-receptor with CD4 for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) glycoprotein gp120 [1-3]. CXCR4 can mediate the entry of HIV-1 strains that specifically infect T cells, such as the IIB strain (see  for review). Recent reports indicate that gp120 can signal through CXCR4  and it has been suggested that signal transduction, mediated by the viral envelope, might influence viral-associated cytopathicity or apoptosis . Neuronal apoptosis is a feature of HIV-1 infection in the brain [7,8], although the exact mechanism is unknown. Here, we address the possible role of CXCR4 in inducing apoptosis using cells of the hNT human neuronal cell line; these cells resemble immature post-mitotic cholinergic neurons and have a number of neuronal characteristics [9-15]. We have previously shown that gp120 from the HIV-1 IIIB strain binds with high affinity to CXCR4 expressed on hNT neurons . We now find that both IIIB gp120 and the Cys-X-Cys chemokine SDF-1 alpha can directly induce apoptosis in hNT neurons in the absence of CD4 and in a dose-dependent manner. To our knowledge, this is the first report of a chemokine and an HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein eliciting apoptotic responses through a chemokine receptor.