Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) growth in lymphocyte cultures was increased when the virus inoculum was incubated in breast milk. The enhancing effect of milk was abolished by anti-cathepsin D antibody or by pepstatin A, a cathepsin D inhibitor. The cathepsin D-producing CD4-negative MCF7 mammary cells supported the growth of some HIV-1 isolates. An MCF7 line chronically producing HIV-1 IIIb was obtained. Cathepsin D may induce conformational modification of viral gp120, allowing direct interaction with a coreceptor. We demonstrated the presence of CXCR4 mRNA in MCF7 cells.