Transmission of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) occurs primarily via the mucosal route, suggesting that HIV-1 vaccines may need to elicit mucosal immune responses. Here, we investigated the immunogenicity and relative efficacy of systemic immunization with two human ALVAC-HIV-1 recombinant vaccines expressing Gag, Pol, and gp120 (vCP250) or Gag, Pol, and gp160 (vCP1420) in a prime-boost protocol with their homologous vaccine native Env proteins. The relative efficacy was measured against a high-dose mucosal exposure to the pathogenic neutralization-resistant variant SHIVKU2 (simian-human immunodeficiency virus). Systemic immunization with both vaccine regimens decreased viral load levels not only in blood but unexpectedly also in mucosal sites and protected macaques from peripheral CD4+ T-cell loss. This protective effect was stronger when the gp120 antigen was included in the vaccine. Inclusion of recombinant Tat protein in the boosting phase along with the Env protein did not contribute further to the preservation of CD4 + T cells. Thus, systemic immunization with ALVAC-HIV-1 vaccine candidates elicits anti-HIV-1 immune responses able to contain virus replication also at mucosal sites in macaques. Copyright © 2006, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.