The human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) gp120 exterior envelope glycoprotein interacts with the viral receptor (CD4) and with the gp41 transmembrane envelope glycoprotein. To study the interaction of the gp120 and gp41 envelope glycoproteins, we compared the abilities of anti-gp120 monoclonal antibodies to bind soluble gp120 and a soluble glycoprotein, sgp140, that contains gp120 and gp41 exterior domains. The occlusion or alteration of a subset of gp120 epitopes on the latter molecule allowed the definition of a gp41 "footprint" on the gp120 antibody competition map. The occlusion of these epitopes on the sgp140 glycoprotein was decreased by the binding of soluble CD4. The gp120 epitopes implicated in the interaction with the gp41 ectodomain were disrupted by deletions of the first (C1) and fifth (C5) conserved gp120 regions. These deletions did not affect the integrity of the discontinuous binding sites for CD4 and neutralizing monoclonal antibodies. Thus, the gp41 interface on the HIV-1 gp120 glycoprotein, which elicits nonneutralizing antibodies, can be removed while retaining immunologically desirable gp120 structures.