Strains of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 differ in their abilities to infect and replicate in primary human macrophages. Chimeric clones were constructed from a provirus unable to infect macrophages (NLHX) and envelope sequences (V3 loop) of viruses derived without cultivation from brain (YU2 and w1-1c1) or spleen (w2-1b4) tissues. The substituted V3 loop sequences in each case were sufficient to confer upon NLHX the ability to infect macrophages. Furthermore, an envelope domain immediately N terminal to the V3 loop also was found to modulate the level of replication in macrophages. These results demonstrate that an envelope determinant derived directly from patients with AIDS confers HIV-1 tropism for macrophages.