Abstract Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)-associated central nervous system disorders, including encephalopathy, often occur in the late stage of HIV-1 infection. Some inflammatory cytokines and HIV-1 antigens released from infected microglia or brain macrophages are considered to play an important role in neuropathogenesis. In this study, an in vitro assay system has been established for the evaluation of neural cell death, which would be predictive of the pathogenesis of neural cell death in vivo. The human neuroblastoma cell line SK-N-SH was differentiated to a neural phenotype with retinoic acid, while the promyelocytic cell line HL-60 and its HIV-1-infected clone OM-10.1 were differentiated to macrophages with phorbol myristate acetate. When neural (differentiated SK-N-SH) cells were cocultured with either uninfected or HIV-1-infected macrophages (differentiated HL-60 or OM-10.1 cells, respectively) for 3–5 days, significant neural cell death was observed in the cells cocultured with infected macrophages. Direct contact with macrophages was not necessary for the induction of neural cell death, since indirect coculture or coculture supernatants could also induce neural cell death. Large amounts of cytokines and chemokines were released in the coculture supernatants. The CXCR4 antagonist AMD3100 and the HIV-1 transcription inhibitor K-37 partially inhibited neural cell death. These results indicate that this system seems to be a useful tool for the evaluation of compounds against HIV-1-induced neural cell death.