Human herpesvirus type 8 vMIP-II has one of the broadest ranges of chemokine receptor binding and therefore a multiplicity of biologic effects, both immunologic and antiviral. These properties make vMIP-II an attractive effector gene to be expressed from gene therapy vectors. The present studies were concerned with both therapeutic approaches: (1) an anti-simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) biologic, and (2) an effector gene in SIV-based vectors. Regarding its antiviral properties, vMIP-II expressed from bacteria and SIV-based vectors bound the surface of CEMx174 cells and specifically suppressed SIVmac251 infection. A CCR3 monoclonal antibody partially inhibited vMIP-II binding, suggesting that both SIVmac251 and vMIP-II utilize a similar CCR3-like receptor for CEMx174 cell binding. Replication competent SIV-based vectors containing forward and reverse vMIP-II produced neither identifiable vMIP-II nor virions for the first 21 days. Virus replication occurred after this period. Significant sequence alterations in the forward vMIP-II containing replication competent vector transcripts were responsible for the failure of vMIP-II expression. The genetic basis for the initial failure to replicate virus and its later restoration was not determined but appeared in the II-PIMv containing vectors to coincide with deletions and compensatory rearrangements in nef 3' of the polypurine tract. Cells transfected with SIVmac239Delta3DeltaLTR-vMIP-II vectors expressed biologically active vMIP-II that bound CEMx174 cells and suppressed SIVmac251 infection. These data suggest that replication defective SIV vectors expressing immunobiolgic genes such as vMIP-II may prove useful in gene therapies, particularly in augmenting immune responses in chronically infected individuals.