Infection of macaques with attenuated simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) induces potent superinfection resistance that may be applicable to the development of an AIDS vaccine but little information exists concerning the conditions necessary for the induction of this vaccine effect. We report that only a high dose of attenuated SIVmac protected macaques against intravenous challenge with more virulent virus 15 weeks after primary infection. Three of four animals given 2000-20000 TCID50 of SIVmacC8, a molecular clone of SIVmac251(32H) with a 12 bp deletion in the nef gene, essentially resisted superinfection with uncloned SIVmac. In two animals challenge virus was never detected by PCR and in one animal challenge virus was detected on one occasion only. Although animals given 2-200 TCID50 of attenuated virus were super-infected they were spared from the loss of CD4 cells seen in infected naive controls. Protection from superinfection did not correlate with immune responses, including the levels of virus-specific antibodies or virus-neutralizing activity measured on the day of challenge; although, after superinfection challenge. Nef-specific CTL responses were detected only in animals infected with high doses of attenuated SIV. Unexpectedly, cell-associated virus loads 2 weeks after inoculation were significantly lower in animals infected with a high dose of attenuated SIV compared to those in animals infected with a low dose. Our results suggest that the early dynamics of infection with attenuated virus influence superinfection resistance.