A key determinant of T cell dynamics in HIV-1 infection is the status of thymic function. To date, most studies of the impact of HIV-1 on the thymus during early HIV-1 infection have been done in samples collected in the interval of 3-12 months after infection. In this study, we have probed the status of thymic function and peripheral naive T cells in patients with acute HIV-1 infection diagnosed 18-72 days after the onset of symptoms. We found that peripheral CD4 and CD8 T cell proliferation was initially elevated, then waned over time. The fall in T cell proliferation correlated with a reduction in HIV-1 viral RNA levels and a rise in peripheral blood CD4+ CD25+ T cells. In spite of elevated T cell proliferation early on in primary HIV-1 infection, levels of naive phenotype CD4 and CD8 T cells and T cell receptor excision circle positive cells (sjTREC+) remained constant. Taken together with the observation that T cell proliferation normally dilutes peripheral T cell episomal sjTREC levels, these data suggested that thymopoiesis contributes to maintenance of the naive T cell pool during the earliest stages of HIV-1 infection (18-72 days). © 2005 Springer Science+Business Media, Inc.