We studied whether signaling through CD30, a member of the TNF receptor family, affected acute infection with HIV-1, encompassing its entire replicative cycle. Several non-Hodgkin cell lines, targets of CXCR4-dependent (X4) HIV-1 infection, were positive for CD30 expression. CD30 ligation induced up-regulation of viral replication only in certain CD30+ cell lines. Enhancement of X4 virus replication by CD30 engagement inversely correlated with both CD30 surface density and constitutive NF-kappaB activation. Conversely, expression of CD30, but not of other members of the TNF receptor family, was proportional to constitutive NF-kappaB binding. Concomitantly, secretion of soluble (s) CD30 increased in all cell lines by CD30 ligation. sCD30 release was enhanced by engagement of CD30 alone and, to a greater extent, by co-engagement of CD3 also in primary gamma delta T lymphocytes, along with complementary modulations of their surface CD30 expression. sCD30-containing supernatant specifically inhibited HIV-1 expression induced by CD30 engagement in chronically infected ACH-2 T cells; thus sCD30 may act as a negative feed-back molecule. In conclusion, we have delineated novel features of CD30 biology and underline the peculiar link of CD30 expression to constitutive NF-kappaB activation which is pivotal to both HIV replication and cell survival.