[en] Abstract We previously observed limited cross-reactive T cell responses in two HIV-1-superinfected injection drug users (IDUs) before superinfection [Ramos A, et al.: J Virol 2002;76(15):7444-7452]. To elucidate the role of such responses in superinfection we examined cross-reactive T cell responses in IDUs infected with a single HIV-1 subtype. In this study, IFN-gamma ELISPOT assays were performed using recombinant vaccinia constructs and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from 43 IDUs singly infected with CRF01_AE or B' from the same cohort as the superinfected IDUs. PBMCs were from time points corresponding to pre- (early) or post- (late) superinfection in the superinfected IDUs. We observed that most singly infected IDUs had cross-reactivity in samples from early (84% of CRF01_AE and 78% of B'-infected IDUs) and late (96% of CRF_01AE and 77% of B'-infected IDUs) time points. Frequent homologous reactivity at early (67% of CRF-01AE and 100% of B') and late (84% of CRF01_AE-infected and 100% of B'-infected IDUs) time points was also observed. Cross-reactive responses were predominantly to Pol and were broader and higher in CRF01_AE than in B'-infected IDUs (medians of 825 vs. 90 and 585 vs. 60 spot-forming units/10(6) PBMCs at early and late time points, respectively). Our results show that cross-reactive responses were more prevalent with greater height and breadth in singly infected IDUs than previously observed in corresponding collection time points of superinfected IDU. Thus, low or absent cross-reactivity may have contributed to the previously observed superinfections. These data are relevant for understanding superinfection and improving vaccine design.