The objective of this study was to estimate and compare the evolutionary rates of HIV-2 and HIV-1. Two HIV-2 data sets from patients with advanced disease were compared to matched HIV-1 data sets. The estimated mean evolutionary rate of HIV-2 was significantly higher than the estimated rate of HIV-1, both in the gp125 and in the V3 region of the env gene. In addition, the rate of synonymous substitutions in gp125 was significantly higher for HIV-2 than for HIV-1, possibly indicating a shorter generation time or higher mutation rate of HIV-2. Thus, the lower virulence of HIV-2 does not appear to translate into a lower rate of evolution.