Human monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) to two contiguous epitopes in the V3 loop of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) envelope have shown different effects on three distinct strains of the virus: neutralization, enhancement, or resistance to both processes. Only one amino acid in the mAb epitopes proximal to the crown of the V3 loop was different among these three strains. Substitution of this amino acid in the neutralizable strain with the amino acid of the neutralization-resistant strain or the enhanceable strain resulted in loss of both activities. The conversion of this single amino acid in the neutralization-resistant strain to that of the amino acid found in the neutralization-sensitive strain did not confer the ability for the virus to be neutralized. However, additional changes in neighboring amino acids in the V3 loop succeeded in conferring the neutralization capability. These observations indicate that one antibody species can exert three different effects on various HIV-1 strains. They could explain the emergence of neutralization "escape" variants in the presence of the neutralizing antibodies. Moreover, the results suggest caution in immunization of individuals with the envelope region from one strain since the antibodies induced may show a neutralizing effect against the homologous strain but enhancing effects against other unrelated strains.