Chronic immune activation is a key factor in HIV-1 disease progression. The translocation of microbial products from the intestinal lumen into the systemic circulation occurs during HIV-1 infection and is associated closely with immune activation; however, it has not been determined conclusively whether microbial translocation drives immune activation or occurs as a consequence of HIV-1 infection. In an important study in this issue of the JCI, Kristoff and colleagues describe the role of microbial translocation in producing immune activation in an animal model of HIV-1 infection, SIV infection of pigtailed macaques. Blocking translocation of intestinal bacterial LPS into the circulation dramatically reduced T cell activation and proliferation, production of proinflammatory cytokines, and plasma SIV RNA levels. This study directly demonstrates that microbial translocation promotes the systemic immune activation associated with HIV-1/SIV infection.