The binding of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) to the cellular receptor CD4 has been suggested to induce conformational changes in the viral envelope glycoproteins that promote virus entry. Conserved, discontinuous epitopes on the HIV-1 gp120 glycoprotein recognized by the 17b, 48d, and A32 antibodies are preferentially exposed upon the binding of soluble CD4 (sCD4). The binding of the 17b and 48d antibodies to the gp120 glycoprotein can also be enhanced by the binding of the A32 antibody. Here we constructed HIV-1 gp120 mutants in which the variable segments of the V1/V2 and V3 structures were deleted, individually or in combination, while the 17b, 48d, and A32 epitopes were retained. The effects of the variable loop deletions on the function of the HIV-1 envelope glycoproteins and on the exposure of epitopes induced by sCD4 or A32 binding to the monomeric gp120 glycoprotein were examined. The variable-loop-deleted envelope glycoproteins were able to mediate virus entry, albeit at lower efficiencies than those of the wild-type glycoproteins. Thus, the V1/V2 and V3 variable sequences contribute to the efficiency of HIV-1 entry but are not absolutely required for the process. Neither the V1/V2 nor V3 loops were necessary for the increase in exposure of the 17b/48d epitopes induced by binding of the A32 monoclonal antibody. By contrast, induction of the 17b, 48d, and A32 epitopes by sCD4 binding apparently involves a movement of the V1/V2 loops, which in the absence of CD4 partially mask these epitopes on the native gp120 monomer. The results obtained with a mutant glycoprotein containing a deletion of the V1 loop alone indicated that the contribution of the V2 loop to these phenomena was more significant than that of the V1 sequences. These results suggest that the V1/V2 loops, which have been previously implicated in CD4-modulated, postattachment steps in HIV-1 entry, contribute to CD4-induced gp120 conformational changes detected by the 17b, 48d, and A32 antibodies.