This study investigates whether cell-derived glycosylphosphatidylinositol-linked complement control proteins CD55 and CD59 can be incorporated into HIV-1 virions and contribute to complement resistance. Virus was prepared by transfection of cell lines with pNL4-3, and primary isolates of HIV-1 were derived from patients' PBMCs. Virus was tested for sensitivity to complement-mediated virolysis in the presence of anti-gp160 antibody. Viral preparations from JY33 cells, which lack CD55 and CD59, were highly sensitive to complement. HIV-1 preparations from H9 and U937 cells, which express low levels of CD55 and CD59, had intermediate to high sensitivity while other cell line-derived viruses and primary isolates of HIV-1 were resistant to complement-mediated virolysis. Although the primary isolates were not lysed, they activated complement as measured by binding to a complement receptor positive cell line. While the primary isolates were resistant to lysis in the presence of HIV-specific antibody, antibody to CD59 induced lysis. Likewise, antibody to CD55 and CD59 induced lysis of cell line-derived virus. Western blot analysis of purified virus showed bands corresponding to CD55 and CD59. Phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C treatment of either cell line-derived or primary isolates of HIV-1 increased sensitivity to complement while incubation of sensitive virus with purified CD55 and CD59 increased resistance to complement. These results show that CD55 and CD59 are incorporated into HIV-1 particles and function to protect virions from complement-mediated destruction, and they are the first report of host cell proteins functioning in protection of HIV-1 from immune effector mechanisms.