The dynamics of HIV-1 replication in vivo are largely unknown yet they are critical to our understanding of disease pathogenesis. Experimental drugs that are potent inhibitors of viral replication can be used to show that the composite lifespan of plasma virus and virus-producing cells is remarkably short (half-life ˜2 days). Almost complete replacement of wild-type virus in plasma by drug-resistant variants occurs after fourteen days, indicating that HIV-1 viraemia is sustained primarily by a dynamic process involving continuous rounds of de novo virus infection and replication and rapid cell turnover. © 1995, Nature Publishing Group. All rights reserved.