We have determined that polymeric IgA in saliva of HIV-1-uninfected individuals binds in varying degrees to components of culture supernatants containing HIV-1 recombinant proteins when ELISA is used for the determination. This finding did not extend to salivary IgG antibodies. Further, such problems were not encountered in Western blot. Binding did not appear to be mediated by salivary proteins known to bind to IgA, including secretory component, amylase, lactoferrin, lysozyme, galactosyl transferase, or secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor, and was not influenced by blocking reagents or by changes in secondary anti-IgA antibodies. Although these findings will not likely impact on the use of saliva as a diagnostic fluid for HIV-1 infection (the HIV-1 response in saliva is mostly of the IgG isotype), they indicate that assessments of this secretion as an indicator of IgA mucosal immune responses to HIV-1 vaccines should be undertaken with caution.