Fresh human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) isolates from patients with AIDS were screened for infectivity in chimpanzee peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) to identify strains potentially able to generate high virus loads in an inoculated animal. Only 3 of 23 isolates obtained were infectious in chimpanzee cells. Of these three, only one (HIV-1DH12) was able to initiate a productive infection in PBMC samples from all 25 chimpanzees tested. HIV-1DH12 tissue culture infections were characterized by extremely rapid replication kinetics, profound cytopathicity, and tropism for chimp and human PBMC, primary human macrophage, and several human T-cell lines. An infection was established within 1 week of inoculating a chimpanzee with 50 50% tissue culture infective doses of HIV-1DH12; cell-free virus was recovered from the plasma at weeks 1, 2, and 4 and was associated with the development of lymphadenopathy. Virus loads during the primary infection and at 6 months postinoculation were comparable to those reported in HIV-1-seropositive individuals.