The development of a vaccine to provide protective immunity to human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), the virus causing AIDS, would be the most practical method to control its spread. Subunit vaccines consisting of virus envelope glycoproteins, produced by recombinant DNA technology, are effective in preventing viral infections. We have now used this approach in the development of a candidate AIDS vaccine. Chimpanzees were immunized with recombinant forms of the HIV-1 glycoproteins gp120 and gp160 produced in Chinese hamster ovary cells, and then challenged with HIV-1. The control and the two animals immunized with the gp160 variant became infected within 7 weeks of challenge. The two animals immunized with the gp120 variant have shown no signs of infection after more than 6 months. These studies demonstrate that recombinant gp120, formulated in an adjuvant approved for human use, can elicit protective immunity against a homologous strain of HIV-1.