Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) Vpr is a 96-amino-acid protein that is found associated with the HIV-1 virion. Vpr induces cell cycle arrest at the G2/M phase of the cell cycle, and this arrest is followed by apoptosis. We examined the mechanism of Vpr-induced apoptosis and found that HIV-1 Vpr-induced apoptosis requires the activation of a number of cellular cysteinyl aspartate-specific proteases (caspases). We demonstrate that ectopic expression of anti-apoptotic viral proteins, which inhibit caspase activity, and addition of synthetic peptides, which represent caspase cleavage sites, can inhibit Vpr-induced apoptosis. Finally, inhibition of caspase activity and subsequent inhibition of apoptosis results in increased viral expression, suggesting that therapeutic strategies aimed at reducing Vpr-induced apoptosis in vivo require careful consideration.