Human colon carcinoma Caco-2 cell monolayers undergo conversion into cells that share morphological and functional features of M cells when allowed to interact with B lymphocytes. A lymphotropic (X4) HIV-1 strain crosses M cell monolayers and infects underlying CD4(+) target cells. Transport requires both lactosyl cerebroside and CXCR4 receptors, which are expressed on the apical surface of Caco-2 and M cells. Antibodies specific for each receptor block transport. In contrast, a monotropic (R5) HIV-1 strain is unable to cross M cell monolayers and infect underlying monocytes, despite efficient transport of latex beads. Caco-2 and M cells do not express CCR5, but transfection of these cells with CCR5 cDNA restores transport of R5 virus, which demonstrates that HIV-1 transport across M cells is receptor-mediated. The follicle-associated epithelium covering human gut lymphoid follicles expresses CCR5, but not CXCR4, and lactosyl cerebroside, suggesting that HIV-1 infection may occur through M cells and enterocytes at these sites.