It was investigated whether human antibody against HIV-1 protein p17 (anti-p17) in HIV carriers' plasma has the ability to neutralize the infectivity of HIV. By the pretreatment of HIV-1 with anti-p17 from HIV carriers, progeny HIV-1 production from cells infected with virus pretreated with anti-p17 was suppressed and/or delayed. The neutralizing activity of anti-p17 was decreased in the presence of recombinant p17. The latter obviously masked the neutralizing activity of anti-p17. The relevant epitope(s) on p17 is located apparently on the surface of HIV virions and the binding of anti-p17 to p17 impairs the infectivity of HIV. This implies that anti-p17, if stably present in HIV carriers' plasma, may also play an important role in reducing the infectivity of HIV-1 in vivo.