Characterization of biological and immunological properties of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) is critical to developing effective therapies and vaccines for AIDS. With the use of a novel CD4+ T-cell line (PM-1) permissive to infection by both monocytotropic (MT) and T-cell-tropic virus types, we present a comparative analysis of the immunological properties of a prototypic primary MT isolate of HIV-1 strain JR-CSF (MT-CSF) with those of a T-cell-tropic variant (T-CSF) of the same virus, which emerged spontaneously in vitro. The parental MT-CSF infected only PM-1 cells and was markedly resistant to neutralization by sera from HIV-1-infected individuals, rabbit antiserum to recombinant MT-CSF gp120, and anti-V3 monoclonal antibodies. The T-CSF variant infected a variety of CD4+ T-cell lines, contained positively charged amino acid substitutions in the gp120 V3 region, and was highly sensitive to antibody neutralization. Neutralization and antibody staining of T-CSF-expressing cells were significantly inhibited by HIV-1 V3 peptides; in contrast, the MT strain showed only weak V3-specific binding of polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies. Exposure of PM-1 cells to a mixture of both viruses in the presence of human anti-HIV-1 neutralizing antiserum resulted in infection with only MT-CSF. These results demonstrate that although the V3 region of MT viruses is immunogenic, the target epitopes in the V3 principal neutralizing domain on the membrane form of the MT envelope appear to be cryptic or hidden from blocking antibodies.