The MDR1 multidrug transporter P-gp (P-glycoprotein) is an efflux pump that extrudes diverse hydrophobic drugs and peptides from cells. Since the entry of HIV-1 into cells involves an initial interaction of the viral gp41 hydrophobic peptide with the plasma membrane, a potential effect of P-gp on HIV-1 infectivity was explored. Virus production was greatly decreased when P-gp was overexpressed at the surface of a continuous CD4(+) human T-leukemic cell line (12D7) infected with HIV-1(NL4-3), a T-tropic molecular clone of HIV-1. P-gp overexpression did not significantly alter the surface expression or distribution of either the HIV-1 receptor CD4 or the coreceptor CXCR4. Reduction of HIV-1 infectivity in P-gp-expressing cells occurred both during the fusion of viral and plasma membranes and at subsequent step(s) in the HIV-1 life cycle.