Because human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection is characterized by a large number of viral replication cycles and rapid cell turnover in vivo, successful gene therapy requires an approach effective under these conditions. The antitat gene has been proposed for gene therapy because it effectively blocks Tat function and the replication of HIV-1. However, neither antitat nor any other antiviral gene has been shown to inhibit HIV in the presence of high viral load and inflammatory cytokines, a condition closer to the in vivo situation. We show that cells transduced with antitat retrovirus vector are resistant to high multiplicity of HIV infection. In the presence of inflammatory cytokines, including interleukin-1 and tumor necrosis factor, both known to activate viral gene expression independently of Tat, antitat suppressed virus replication. HIV-1 inhibition was observed when cell were treated with a mixture of inflammatory cytokines able to induce acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) Kaposi's sarcoma cell growth. These molecules have been shown to be increased in HIV-1-infected individuals, and it is suggested they play a role in the pathogenesis of AIDS. Our results suggest that antitat is effective under conditions present in vivo and therefore a primary candidate for HIV-1 gene therapy.