Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) requires a programmed −1 ribosomal frameshift to produce Gag–Pol, the precursor of its enzymatic activities. This frameshift occurs at a slippery sequence on the viral messenger RNA and is stimulated by a specific structure, downstream of the shift site. While in group M, the most abundant HIV-1 group, the frameshift stimulatory signal is an extended bulged stem-loop, we show here, using a combination of mutagenesis and probing studies, that it is a pseudoknot in group O. The mutagenesis and probing studies coupled to an in silico analysis show that group O pseudoknot is a hairpin-type pseudoknot with two coaxially stacked stems of eight base-pairs (stem 1 and stem 2), connected by single-stranded loops of 2 nt (loop 1) and 20 nt (loop 2). Mutations impairing formation of stem 1 or stem 2 of the pseudoknot reduce frameshift efficiency, whereas compensatory changes that allow re-formation of these stems restore the frameshift efficiency to near wild-type level. The difference between the frameshift stimulatory signal of group O and group M supports the hypothesis that these groups originate from a different monkey to human transmission.