Cellular immune responses to human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) antigens, microbial recall antigens, and CD3 monoclonal antibody were studied in HIV-1-infected asymptomatic patients in a phase II, double-blind trial of immunization with recombinant HIV-1 gp160 in or not in association with zidovudine. A vigorous and persistent lymphoproliferative response (LPR) to HIV-1 Env antigens was observed in vaccinated patients. Neither Env-specific lymphocyte cytotoxicity nor LPR to recall antigens was significantly influenced by gp160 administration. The induction of LPRs to HIV-1 envelope proteins did not show positive effects on the course of HIV-1 infection. Patients treated with zidovudine alone or in combination with the immunogen showed improvement of T lymphocyte responses and transient reduction of viremia. These results suggest that antiretroviral therapy is more beneficial than immunization with gp160 and should always be considered in association with future vaccination and immunotherapeutic interventions in HIV-1-infected subjects.