In vivo, human immunodeficiency virus type 2 (HIV-2) infection reveals several unique characteristics when compared to HIV-1 infection, the most remarkable of which is the extraordinarily long asymptomatic period. Here we describe two HIV-2 primary isolates, obtained from asymptomatic individuals, which do not infect any coreceptor-expressing cell lines tested. In those cells, we show that the absence of replication is directly related to cell entry events. Furthermore, productive infection observed in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) was not inhibited by natural ligands and monoclonal antibodies directed to CCR5 and CXCR4. Finally, viral entry efficiency and viral progeny production of these viruses are markedly impaired in PBMC, indicating a reduced replicative fitness of both viruses. In conclusion, our data suggest that in some HIV-2 asymptomatic individuals, the circulating viruses are unable to use the major coreceptors to infect PBMC. This fact should have important implications in HIV-2 pathogenesis and transmission. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science (USA). All rights reserved.