To evaluate functional T-cell recovery during combination therapy with ritonavir, lamivudine (3TC), and zidovudine (ZDV), peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were obtained from 4 HIV-1 infected patients (baseline values: 40-403 CD4+ T-cells/μl; 4.6-6.4 log HIV-1 RNA copies/ml) before HAART administration (week 1) and after 5, 20, and 37 weeks of treatment on average. In vitro lymphoproliferative responses (LPR) to C. albicans, tetanus toxoid, and M. tuberculosis protein purified derivative (PPD), as recall antigens (Ag), and to recombinant HIV-1 Gag-p24 and p17 were measured by 3H-Thymidine incorporation. LPR to recall Ag, almost undetectable before therapy, appeared in all four patients during HAART soon after maximal load reduction was achieved. LPR to Gag-p17, but not to p24, became also detectable in three patients, even though remaining weak. In conclusion, improved T-lymphocyte function during HAART was achieved probably mostly as a result of lower virus inhibitory factors and cytokines.