Although it is known that some human immune sera possess potent neutralizing activities for primary viruses, the identity of the target epitopes mediating this neutralization is unknown, and currently available immunogens have not been able to induce such activities. Using recombinant fusion glycoproteins expressing native V1/V2 domains of gp120 we have found that sera from a subset of HIV-1-infected humans contain antibodies that recognize broadly conserved V1/V2 epitopes. Such antibodies were isolated from one human serum by affinity chromatography on a column containing a V1/V2 fusion protein, and shown to efficiently neutralize several macrophage-tropic HIV-1 isolates. Rodents immunized with the purified V1/V2 fusion protein produced antibodies reactive with unrelated V1/V2 fusion proteins and with heterologous gp120s. V1/V2-specific immunoglobulins isolated from sera of these animals by affinity chromatography also possessed potent neutralization activity for several primary HIV-1 isolates. These results indicate that the V1/V2 domain of HIV-1 gp120 contains conserved epitopes that mediate potent neutralization of primary viruses, and suggest that subunit vaccines that efficiently induce such antibodies may provide protective humoral immunity against clinically relevant HIV-1 isolates.