This report describes the vaccination of rhesus macaques with peptides selected from regions of the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) envelope that are hydrophilic, immunoreactive, and highly homologous with corresponding conserved envelope sequences of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The peptides, produced as beta-galactosidase fusion proteins, induced virus-neutralizing and peptide-specific antibodies. After challenge with virulent virus, controls became virus positive and developed gradually rising antibody titers to SIV over 63 weeks. Immunized macaques developed a postchallenge anamnestic response to SIVenv antigens within 3-6 weeks followed by a gradual, fluctuating decline in SIV antibody titers and partial or total suppression of detectable SIV. Virus suppression correlated with prechallenge neutralizing antibody titers. Although the average CD4+ cell count in the blood of immunized macaques remained constant, the control macaques exhibited a progressive decrease developing about week 55 after challenge. The conserved nature of the HIV and SIV peptides and the similar humoral immunoreactivity in the respective hosts suggest that homologous HIV peptides may be important components of a successful immunization strategy.