Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) protease inhibitor-resistant variants, isolated on passage of HIV-1(HXB2) in MT-4 cells with five different protease inhibitors, have been examined for cross-resistance to five inhibitors. The protease inhibitors studied were Ro 31-8959, A-77003, XM323, L-735,524, and VX-478. Resistant variants with two to four mutations within their protease sequence and 9- to 40-fold-decreased susceptibility were selected for all five inhibitors within six to eight passes in cell culture. Passage of a zidovudine-resistant mutant in Ro 31-8959 generated a dual reverse transcriptase- and protease-resistant virus. Variants were cloned directly into a modified pHXB2-D infectious clone for cross-resistance analysis. Although the resistant variants selected possessed different combinations of protease mutations for each inhibitor, many showed cross- resistance to the other inhibitors, and one showed cross-resistance to all five inhibitors. Interestingly, some mutants showed increased susceptibility to some inhibitors. Further HIV passage studies in the combined presence of two protease inhibitors demonstrated that in vitro it was possible to delay significantly selection of mutations producing resistance to one or both inhibitors. These studies indicate that there may be some rationale for combining different protease inhibitors as well as protease and reverse transcriptase inhibitors in HIV combination therapy.