Previous studies of HIV-1 replication in chimpanzee lymphocytes have been limited to a small number of virus isolates which generally replicated poorly and without cytopathic effect. Here, we describe an HIV-1 provirus (SG3), cloned as a single proviral unit, which replicates more efficiently in chimpanzee than in human lymphocytes, resulting in syncytium formation and cell death. This provirus also replicates efficiently and with extraordinary cytopathic effect in immortalized human T-cell lines. The SG3 genome was completely sequenced and found to contain all genes typical of HIV-1 with the exception of vpu. Phylogenetically, SG3 is representative of North American/European strains of HIV-1 and shows no greater similarity to SIV CPZ in its envelope sequence than do other HIV-1 strains. Pilot studies indicate that SG3 can infect and replicate in chimpanzees and SCID-hu mice in vivo following intravenous or intrathymic inoculation. The SG3 proviral clone, because of its replication efficiency in human and chimpanzee cells and its complete molecular description, represents a new virologic reagent for the coordinated molecular analysis of HIV-1 replication and pathogenesis in relevant animal model systems. © 1993 Academic Press. All rights reserved.