Myeloperoxidase is virucidal to human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) in the persistently infected CEM human T-cell line or in acutely infected human peripheral blood mononuclear cells, as judged by viral infectivity and P24 radioimmunoassay. HIV-1 was specifically inactivated by low doses of the human myeloperoxidase (1.4 to 14.3 mU/ml) and the cells were spared. A higher enzyme concentration (143 mU/m) was cytotoxic, but uninfected CEM cells and normal lymphocytes were resistant to > or = 143 mU of myeloperoxidase per ml. The enzyme was virucidal with the Cl- present in medium and did not require exogenous H2O2. Catalase, an antioxidant enzyme, partially inhibited the virucidal effect of myeloperoxidase. Hence, the H2O2 probably came from the HIV-infected cells themselves. These in vitro findings indicate that the myeloperoxidase system is capable of inactivating HIV-1 of infected cells.