A region of homology has been found between the envelope (ENV) protein of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) virus and a portion of interleukin 2 (IL-2) that purportedly binds to the IL-2 receptor. This homology, between two proteins associated with opposing biological functions, suggests possible mechanisms for the immunosuppressive activity of the AIDS virus. Two mechanisms are proposed in which the AIDS virus env protein interferes with IL-2 activity either directly or indirectly. A region of similarity to the purported IL-2 receptor binding site on IL-2 and AIDS virus env is present in the env proteins of other retroviruses associated with immunosuppression. A synthetic peptide vaccine for AIDS is suggested based on the IL-2 receptor binding sequence in AIDS virus env.