Vaccine protection against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the related simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) in animal models is proving to be a difficult task. The difficulty is due in large part to the persistent, unrelenting nature of HIV and SIV infection once infection is initiated. SIV with a constructed deletion in the auxiliary gene nef replicates poorly in rhesus monkeys and appears to be nonpathogenic in this normally susceptible host. Rhesus monkeys vaccinated with live SIV deleted in nef were completely protected against challenge by intravenous inoculation of live, pathogenic SIV. Deletion of nef or of multiple genetic elements from HIV may provide the means for creating a safe, effective, live attenuated vaccine to protect against acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).