Expression of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) Rev protein is essential for completion of the viral life cycle. Rev mediates nuclear export of partially spliced and unspliced viral transcripts and therefore bears a nuclear localization signal (NLS) as well as a nuclear export signal (NES), which allow its nucleocytoplasmic shuttling. Attempts to express the wild-type Rev protein in eukaryotic human cultured cells have encountered difficulties and so far have failed. Here we show that accumulation of Rev, which occurs in nondividing Rev-expressing cells or when such cells reach confluency, results in death of these cells. Cell death was also promoted by addition of a cell permeable peptide bearing the Rev-NES sequence, but not by the Rev-NLS peptide. Our results probably indicate that binding of excess amounts of the Rev protein or the NES peptide to the exportin receptor CRM1 results in cells' death.