Background: RNA based antiviral approaches against HIV-I are among the most promising for long-term gene therapy. These include ribozymes, aptamers (decoys), and small interfering RNAs (siRNAs). Lentiviral vectors are ideal for transduction of such inhibitory RNAs into hematopoietic stem cells due to their ability to transduce non-dividing cells and their relative refractiveness to gene silencing. The objective of this study is to introduce an HIV-I Tar aptamer either alone or in combination with an anti-CCR5 ribozyme into CD34+ hematopoietic progenitor cells via an HIV-based lentiviral vector to derive viral resistant progeny T cells and macrophages. Results: High efficiency and sustained gene transfer into CD34+ cells were achieved with lentiviral vector constructs harboring either Tar decoy or Tar decoy in combination with CCR5 ribozyme. Cells transduced with these constructs differentiated normally into T-lymphocytes in vivo in thy/liv grafts of SCID-hu mice, and into macrophages in vitro in the presence of appropriate growth factors. When challenged in vitro, the differentiated T lymphocytes and macrophages showed marked resistance against HIV-I infection. Conclusions: Viral resistant transgenic T cells and macrophages that express HIV-I Tar aptamer either alone or in combination with an anti-CCR5 ribozyme could be obtained by lentiviral gene transduction of CD34+ progenitor cells. These results showed for the first time that expression of these anti-HIV-I transgenes in combination do not interfere with normal thymopoiesis and thus have set the stage for their application in stem cell based gene therapy for HIV/AIDS.