Identification of HIV-1 transcription inhibitors was previously performed using infectivity assays. As de novo HIV-1 infection is highly sensitive to even minor compound toxicities, these assays are plagued by extremely high levels of false-positive hits. Hit identification is further complicated because infectivity assays lack target specificity. The authors demonstrate that it is possible to overcome these limitations by establishing a stable, chronically actively HIV-1-infected reporter cell line that exclusively identifies HIV-1 transcription inhibitors. In the reporter cell line, 2 spectrally separated fluorescence proteins serve as simultaneously accessible quantitative markers of HIV-1 expression and drug toxicity. The combined analysis of these markers drastically reduces the level of false-positive hits. As determination of fluorescence intensity in a plate-based format can be performed in a noninvasive manner, repeated measurements of fluorescence levels over several days after compound addition can be used to define the kinetic and dynamic characteristics of inhibitory drug effects. In addition, because of the stable nature of the reporter cell line, the assay requires no cell manipulation during assay preparation or assay analysis, rendering the system extremely cost-effective and reliable. © 2006 Society for Biomolecular Sciences.