The extent to which simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) replication in lung tissues contributes to the pool of viruses replicating during acute infection is incompletely understood. To address this issue, in situ hybridization was used to examine SIV replication in multiple lobes of lung from rhesus macaques infected with pathogenic SIV. Despite widespread viral replication in lymphoid and intestinal tissues, the lungs during acute infection harbored rare productively infected cells. Simultaneous immunohistochemical staining for the monocytic marker, CD68, revealed that SIV RNA(+) cells in lung tissues during acute infection were CD68(-), whereas during AIDS they were predominantly CD68(+) and localized in large foci in caudal lobes. SIV RNA(+) cells in spleen remained CD68(-) throughout disease. Since CD68 is also expressed by subpopulations of dendritic cells (DC), we also examined pulmonary CD68(+) cells for expression of additional DC markers. DC-LAMP mRNA was abundant in lung tissues and expressed predominantly by CD68(-) cells, whereas DC-SIGN mRNA was expressed in only very rare cells, indicating that SIV RNA(+) cells late in disease were most likely macrophages. These studies of SIV/host interactions demonstrate that macaque lung tissues are minimally infected during acute infection, exhibit changes in predominant target cells for infection, and express very little DC-SIGN.