As the largest lymphoid organ and the largest reservoir of macrophages in the body, the gastrointestinal tract mucosa is probably the largest organ reservoir of macrophages infected with HIV-1. To elucidate the biology of HIV-1 infection of intestinal macrophages, we isolated lamina propria macrophages from normal human jejunum by neutral protease digestion, purified the cells by counterflow centrifugal elutriation, and then infected the cells with HIV-1. The lamina propria macrophages were permissive to macrophage- tropic isolates of HIV-1 and substantially less permissive to lymphocyte- tropic isolates. Compared with blood monocytes, mucosal macrophages produced 2-3 logs less p24 antigen at peak infection. The reduced level of infection was not due to impaired macrophage viability, reduced CD4 expression, or the isolation procedure. These results confirm that macrophages isolated from the gastrointestinal tract mucosa can support HIV-1 production, albeit at a lower level than blood monocytes. The reduced level of virus production may reflect the unique biology of intestinal lamina propria macrophages.