Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) 1 transgenic mice expressing low or undetectable levels of viral mRNA in lymphoid tissue were infected with the intracellular protozoan Toxoplasma gondii. Exposure to this parasite resulted in an increase in HIV-1 transcript in lymph nodes, spleens, and lungs during the acute phase of infection and in the central nervous system during the chronic stage of disease. In vivo and ex vivo experiments identified macrophages as a major source of the induced HIV-1 transcripts. In contrast, T. gondii infection failed to stimulate HIV-1 transcription in tissues of two HIV-1 transgenic mouse strains harboring a HIV-1 proviral DNA in which the nuclear factor (NF) kappa B binding motifs from the viral long terminal repeats had been replaced with a duplicated Moloney murine leukemia virus core enhancer. A role for NF-kappaB in the activation of the HIV-1 by T. gondii was also suggested by the simultaneous induction of NF-kappaB binding activity and tumor necrosis factor alpha synthesis in transgenic mouse macrophages stimulated by exposure to parasite extracts. These results demonstrate the potential of an opportunistic pathogen to induce HIV-1 transcription in vivo and suggest a mechanism for the in vivo dissemination of HIV-1 by macrophages.