Since the recent publication of data showing favorable outcomes for patients with HIV-1 and ESRD, kidney transplantation has become a therapeutic option in this population. However, reports have documented unexplained reduced allograft survival in these patients. We hypothesized that the unrecognized infection of the transplanted kidney by HIV-1 can compromise long-term allograft function. Using electron microscopy and molecular biology, we examined protocol renal transplant biopsies from 19 recipients with HIV-1 who did not have detectable levels of plasma HIV-1 RNA at transplantation. We found that HIV-1 infected the kidney allograft in 68% of these patients. Notably, HIV-1 infection was detected in either podocytes predominately (38% of recipients) or tubular cells only (62% of recipients). Podocyte infection associated with podocyte apoptosis and loss of differentiation markers as well as a faster decline in allograft function compared with tubular cell infection. In allografts with tubular cell infection, epithelial cells of the proximal convoluted tubules frequently contained abnormal mitochondria, and both patients who developed features of subclinical acute cellular rejection had allografts with tubular cell infection. Finally, we provide a novel noninvasive test for determining HIV-1 infection of the kidney allograft by measuring HIV-1 DNA and RNA levels in patients' urine. In conclusion, HIV-1 can infect kidney allografts after transplantation despite undetectable viremia, and this infection might influence graft outcome.