Vpr, one of the accessory gene products of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), affects aspects of both viral and cellular proliferation, being involved in long terminal repeat (LTR) activation, arrest of the cell cycle at the G2 phase, and apoptosis. We have discovered a novel role for Vpr as a regulator of the splicing of pre-mRNA both in vivo and in vitro. We found, by RT-PCR and RNase protection analysis, that Vpr caused the accumulation of incompletely spliced forms of α-globin 2 and β-globin pre-mRNAs in cells that had been transiently transfected with a Vpr expression vector. We postulated that this novel effect of Vpr might occur via a pathway that is distinct from arrest of the cell cycle at G2. By analyzing splicing reactions in vitro, we showed that Vpr inhibited the splicing of β-globin pre-mRNA in vitro. The splicing of intron 1 of α-globin 2 pre-mRNA was modestly inhibited by Vpr but the splicing of intron 2 was unaffected. Interestingly, an experimental infection system which utilizes high-titered HIV-1/vesticular stomatitis virus G protein showed that Vpr expressed from an HIV-1 provirus was sufficient to accumulate endogenous α-globin 2 pre-mRNA. Thus, it is likely that Vpr contributes to selective inhibition of the splicing of cellular pre-mRNA. © 2005 Elsevier SAS. All rights reserved.