Using synthetic peptides, we characterized the B-lymphocyte (antibody) and T-lymphocyte (proliferation) responses to an immunodominant epitope of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) located near the amino-terminal end of the transmembrane glycoprotein (env amino acids 598 to 609). Both immunoglobulin M (IgM) and IgG antibodies against this epitope appeared early after primary infection with HIV-1. In an animal model, the IgG response to a synthetic peptide derived from this sequence was T-helper-cell dependent, whereas the IgM response was T-cell independent. In addition, antibody generated by immunization with this peptide had HIV-1-neutralizing activity. Greater than 99% (201 of 203) of patients infected with HIV-1 generated antibody to this peptide in vivo; however, only 24% (7 of 29) had T cells that proliferated in response to this peptide in vitro. These observations suggest that different HIV-1 gp41 epitopes elicit B-cell and T-cell immune responses.