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A retrospective study was set up to investigate the frequency of zidovudine (ZDV)-resistant HIV-1 in infected newborns after ZDV prophylaxis in the French Perinatal Cohort study.Nucleotide sequence analysis was carried out from 34 infants' isolates and 18 maternal plasma samples. Mutations related to ZDV resistance were found in the HIV-1 reverse transcriptase in 7 of 34 children (20%). Evidence of mother-child transmission of ZDV-resistant HIV-1 was found in 4 cases. Phylogenetic analysis showed that 14 of 34 HIV-1 isolates from the infants belonged to non-B subtypes. The presence of ZDV resistance-encoding mutations in the newborn isolates was associated with a longer total duration of exposure to ZDV. In a context of a wide HIV-1 variability, ZDV resistance can be one of the factors contributing to mother-child transmission.