LP-BM5 murine leukemia virus infection causes an AIDS-like syndrome--murine acquired immunodeficiency syndrome--in C57B1/6 mice and impairs spatial learning in the Morris water maze without gross motor impairment. We used a shuttle shock-avoidance procedure to examine the effects of LP-BM5 infection on learning and retention of avoidance behavior. Thirty mice were inoculated with LP-BM5; 30 received vehicle (DMEM) injections. Fifteen LP-BM5 and 15 DMEM mice were trained in avoidance 7 wk after inoculation; retention of the avoidance response was tested 4 wk later. The remaining mice were trained 11 wk after inoculation. In animals trained 7 wk after inoculation, the groups performed similarly, with a marginally significant tendency for LP-BM5-infected animals to make more avoidance responses. This group difference was significant when animals were retested at 11 wk. However, LP-BM5 animals trained 11 wk after inoculation made significantly fewer avoidance responses than controls trained at the same time. We conclude that in later stages of disease, LP-BM5 impairs response acquisition, but not performance, in the active avoidance procedure. Results extend the use of the LP-BM5-infected mouse as a model of AIDS dementia complex.