Genomic RNA circularization has been proposed for several RNA viruses. In this study, we examined if the 5′ and 3′ ends of the 9-kb HIV-1 RNA genome can interact. In vitro assays demonstrated a specific interaction between transcripts encompassing the 5′ and 3′ terminal 1 kb, suggesting that the HIV-1 RNA genome can circularize. Truncation of the transcripts indicated that the 5′-3′ interaction is formed by 600-700 nt in the gag open reading frame and the terminal 123 nt of the genomic RNA. Detailed RNA structure probing indicates that sequences flanking the 3′ TAR hairpin interact with complementary sequences in the gag gene. Phylogenetic analysis indicates that all HIV-1 subtypes can form the 5′/3′ interaction despite considerable sequence divergence, suggesting an important role of RNA circularization in the HIV-1 replication cycle.