[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Correct endoproteolytic maturation of gp160 is essential for the infectivity of human immunodeficiency virus type 1. This processing of human immunodeficiency virus-1 envelope protein, gp160, into gp120 and gp41 has been attributed to the activity of the cellular subtilisin-like proprotein convertase furin. The prototypic furin recognition cleavage site is Arg-X-Arg/Lys-Arg. Arg-Arg-Arg-Arg-Arg-Arg or longer iterations of polyarginine have been shown to be competitive inhibitors of substrate cleavage by furin. Here, we tested polyarginine for inhibition of productive human immunodeficiency virus-1-infection in T-cell lines, primary peripheral blood mononuclear cells, and macrophages. We found that polyarginine inhibited significantly human immunodeficiency virus-1 replication at concentrations that were benign to cell cultures ex vivo and mice in vivo. Using a fluorogenic assay, we demonstrated that polyarginine potently inhibited substrate-specific proteolytic cleavage by furin. Moreover, we verified that authentic processing of human immunodeficiency virus-1 gp160 synthesized in human cells from an infectious human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) molecular clone was effectively blocked by polyarginine. Taken together, our data support that inhibitors of proteolytic processing of gp160 may be useful for combating human immunodeficiency virus-1 and that polyarginine represents a lead example of such inhibitors.