Interleukin 16 (IL-16) has been shown to diminish HIV and SIV replication through inhibition of HIV and SIV mRNA transcription. To evaluate its role further, we compared IL-16 cloned from disease-susceptible rhesus macaques and disease-resistant sooty mangabeys. Recombinant rhesus macaque (rr) IL-16 was compared with recombinant sooty mangabey (rm), human, and other nonhuman primate IL-16 sequences and evaluated for its ability to induce chemotaxis and inhibit the mixed lymphocyte response (MLR). Also, rrIL-16 and rmIL-16 were evaluated for suppression of SIVmac251, which replicates efficiently in T cells and monocyte/macrophages (dual tropic), and cloned SIVmac239, which replicates efficiently in T cells (T tropic). Sequence comparison of rrIL-16 and rmIL-16 with human IL-16 showed >97% amino acid identity. Biocharacterization of rrIL-16 revealed potent induction of chemotaxis (p < 0.05) and marked inhibition of MLR (73 +/- 0.6%,p < 0.05) in rhesus and human cell systems. Using rrIL-16 and rmIL-16, p27 antigen production from PBMCs infected with SIVmac251 was decreased up to 70% (p < 0.05 and p < 0.01, respectively). In similar cultures infected with SIVmac239, rrIL-16 and rmIL-16 reduced p27 levels by 96 and 100%, respectively. These data demonstrate the biologic and antiviral functionality of rrIL-16 and rmIL-16.