The subcellular localization of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV- 1) viral protein R (Vpr) was examined by subcellular fractionation. In HIV- 1-infected peripheral blood mononuclear cells, Vpr was found in the nuclear and membrane fractions as well as the conditioned medium. Expression of Vpr without other HIV-1 proteins, in two different eukaryotic expression systems, demonstrated a predominant localization of Vpr in the nuclear matrix and chromatin extract fractions. Deletion of the carboxyl-terminal 19-amino-acid arginine-rich sequence impaired Vpr nuclear localization. Indirect immunofluorescence confirmed the nuclear localization of Vpr and also indicated a perinuclear location. Expression of Vpr alone did not result in export of the protein from the cell, but when coexpressed with the Gag protein, Vpr was exported and found in virus-like particles. A truncated Gag protein, missing the p6 sequence and a portion of the p9 sequence, was incapable of exporting Vpr from the cell. Regulation of Vpr localization may be important in the influence of this protein on virus replication.