Checkpoint kinase 1 (Chk1) mediates diverse cellular responses to genotoxic stress, regulating the network of genome-surveillance pathways that coordinate cell cycle progression with DNA repair. Chk1 is essential for mammalian development and viability, and has been shown to be important for both S and G2 checkpoints. We now present evidence that the HTLV-1 Tax protein interacts directly with Chk1 and impairs its kinase activities in vitro and in vivo. The direct and physical interaction of Chk1 and Tax was observed in HTLV-1-infected T cells (C81, HuT 102 and MT-2) and transfected fibroblasts (293 T) by coimmunoprecipitation and by in vitro GST pull-down assays. Interestingly, Tax inhibited the kinase activity of Chk1 protein in in vitro and in vivo kinase assays. Consistent with these results, Tax inhibited the phosphorylation-dependent degradation of Cdc25A and G2 arrest in response to γ-irradiation (IR) in a dose-dependent manner in vivo. The G2 arrest did not require Chk2 or p53. These studies provide the first example of a viral transforming protein targeting Chk1 and provide important insights into checkpoint pathway regulation.