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Sensitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay-based methods are described for monitoring the binding of envelope glycoproteins from HIV-1 and HIV-2 to soluble CD4 (sCD4). Each of the assays has different properties suitable for different applications, but all can be used to characterize recombinant antigens and to screen for inhibitors of the gp120-CD4 interaction. Recombinant mammalian gp120 (Celltech) binds to sCD4 with high affinity (3 nM); this interaction is inhibited by sera from HIV-infected individuals and by specific monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies raised to a component of the CD4 binding site on gp120. The affinity for sCD4 of HIV-2 viral gp120 is shown to be approximately 25-fold lower than that of HIV-1 gp120 (viral or recombinant).