We studied the capacity of active immunization of rhesus monkeys with HIV-1 envelope protein (Env) to induce primary virus cross-reactive neutralizing antibodies to prevent infection following intravenous challenge with simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV). Monkeys were immunized with the human immunodeficiency type 1 (HIV-1) strain R2 Env. Initially, the Env was expressed in vivo by an alphavirus replicon particle system, and then it was administered as soluble oligomeric gp140. Concurrently, groups of monkeys received expression vectors that encoded either simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) gag/pol genes or no SIV genes in vivo to test the additional protective benefit of concurrent induction of virus-specific cell-mediated immune (CMI) responses. Groups of control monkeys received either the gag/pol regimen or sham immunizations. The antibodies induced by the Env immunization regimen neutralized diverse primary HIV-1 strains. Similarly, potent CMI responses were induced by the gag/pol regimen, as measured by gamma interferon enzyme-linked immunospot assays. Differences in the responses among groups of monkeys strongly suggested that there was interference between the Env and gag/pol immunization regimens. Complete protection of some of the monkeys against infection after intravenous challenge with the partially pathogenic SHIV(DH12R (Clone 7)) was associated independently with both neutralizing antibody and CMI responses. Protection was associated with SHIV(DH12 (Clone 7)) serum neutralizing antibody titers of > or =180 or with cellular immune responses corresponding to >2,000 spot forming cells per 10(6) peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Immunization was also associated with a reduction in the magnitude and duration of virus load. Induction of cross-reactive, primary HIV-1-neutralizing antibodies is feasible and, when potent, may result in complete protection against infection with a heterologous challenge virus strain.