Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) protease inhibitors have dramatically improved treatment options for HIV infection, but frequent dosing may impact adherence to highly active antiretroviral treatment regimens (HAART). Previous studies demonstrated that combined therapy with ritonavir and saquinavir allows a decrease in frequency of saquinavir dosing to twice daily. In this study, we evaluated the safety and pharmacokinetics of combining once-daily doses of the soft-gel capsule (SGC) formulation of saquinavir (saquinavir-SGC) and minidose ritonavir. Forty-four healthy HIV-negative volunteers were randomized into groups receiving once-daily doses of saquinavir-SGC (1,200 to 1,800 mg) plus ritonavir (100 to 200 mg) or a control group receiving only saquinavir-SGC (1,200 mg) three times daily. Saquinavir-SGC alone and saquinavir-SGC-ritonavir combinations were generally well tolerated, and there were no safety concerns. Addition of ritonavir (100 mg) to saquinavir-SGC (1,200 to 1,800 mg/day) increased the area under the concentration-time curve (AUC) for saquinavir severalfold, and the intersubject peak concentration in plasma and AUC variability were reduced compared to those achieved with saquinavir-SGC alone (3,600 mg/day), while trough saquinavir levels (24 h post-dose) were substantially higher than the 90% inhibitory concentration calculated from HIV-1 clinical isolates. Neither increasing the saquinavir-SGC dose to higher than 1,600 mg nor increasing ritonavir from 100 to 200 mg appeared to further enhance the AUC. These results suggest that an all once-daily HAART regimen, utilizing saquinavir-SGC plus a more tolerable low dose of ritonavir, may be feasible. Studies of once-daily saquinavir-SGC (1,600 mg) in combination with ritonavir (100 mg) in HIV-infected patients are underway.