The proliferative responses to a series of peptides constituting the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) gp120 sequence were evaluated in 19 HIV-1-infected rgp160 vaccine recipients, 17 HIV-1-infected rgp120 vaccine recipients, 15 HIV-1-infected placebo recipients, and 18 HIV-1-uninfected controls. Many regions of the gp120 molecule were found to contribute proliferative epitopes, although there were clearly regions of relative dominance and silence. Vaccine recipients tended to have broader, more robust, and more frequent peptide recognition than the placebo recipients. Despite the considerable variability in the pattern of peptide recognition among individuals, there was a striking similarity between the rgp160 and rgp120 vaccinee groups as a whole. Low-risk HIV-1-uninfected individuals may react to a few peptides within the gp120 sequence as well, despite a lack of significant response to the whole gp120 protein.