In the search for an effective vaccine against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), novel ways to deliver viral antigens are being evaluated. One such approach is the use of nonreplicating viral vectors encoding HIV and/or SIV genes that are expressed after infection of host cells. Nonreplicating poliovirus vectors, termed replicons, that expressed HIV-1/HXB2 and SIVmac239 gag and various HIV-1 env genes from different clades were tested for immunogenicity and protective efficacy against intravenous challenge of pig-tailed macaques with SHIV-89.6P. To maximize both cellular and humoral immune responses, a prime-boost regimen was used. Initially, macaques were immunized four times over 35 weeks by either the intranasal and intrarectal or the intramuscular (im) route with mixtures of poliovirus replicons expressing HIV-1 gag and multiple env genes. Immunization with replicons alone induced both serum antibodies and lymphocyte proliferative responses. After boosting with purified Env protein, neutralizing antibodies to SHIV-89.6P were induced in four of five immunized animals. In a second experiment, four macaques were immunized im three times over 27 weeks with replicons expressing the SIVmac239 gag and HIV-1/HXB2 env genes. All immunized animals were then boosted twice with purified HIV-1-89.6 rgp140-Env and SIVmac239 p55-Gag proteins. Four control animals received only the two protein inoculations. Immunized and control animals were then challenged intravenously with the pathogenic SHIV-89.6P. After challenge the animals were monitored for virus isolation from peripheral blood mononuclear cells and plasma viremia and for changes in virus-specific antibody titers. Naïve pig-tailed macaques experienced rapid loss of CD4(+) T cells and died between 38 and 62 weeks after infection. In contrast, macaques immunized with replicons and proteins rapidly cleared plasma virus and did not experience sustained loss of CD4(+) lymphocytes. Furthermore, two of the four macaques that were immunized only with purified proteins maintained high viral burdens and lost greater than 95% of their CD4(+) lymphocytes within 2 to 4 weeks after challenge. Thus, poliovirus replicons expressing HIV-1 and SIV antigens were immunogenic in pig-tailed macaques and appeared to enhance the protective effects observed after administration of purified proteins alone.