SAMHD1, an analogue of the murine interferon (IFN)-γ-induced geneMg11(ref.1), has recently been identified as a human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) restriction factor that blocks early-stage virus replication in dendritic and other myeloid cells2,3and is the target of the lentiviral protein Vpx, which can relieve HIV-1 restriction4,5,6,7. SAMHD1 is also associated with Aicardi–Goutières syndrome (AGS), an inflammatory encephalopathy characterized by chronic cerebrospinal fluid lymphocytosis and elevated levels of the antiviral cytokine IFN-α8. The pathology associated with AGS resembles congenital viral infection, such as transplacentally acquired HIV. Here we show that human SAMHD1 is a potent dGTP-stimulated triphosphohydrolase that converts deoxynucleoside triphosphates to the constituent deoxynucleoside and inorganic triphosphate. The crystal structure of the catalytic core of SAMHD1 reveals that the protein is dimeric and indicates a molecular basis for dGTP stimulation of catalytic activity against dNTPs. We propose that SAMHD1, which is highly expressed in dendritic cells, restricts HIV-1 replication by hydrolysing the majority of cellular dNTPs, thus inhibiting reverse transcription and viral complementary DNA (cDNA) synthesis.