The DNA of the HTLV-III/LAV group of retroviruses contains certain additional open reading frames that are not found in typical avian or mammalian retroviruses. The role of these sequences in encoding for gene products that may be related to pathogenesis remains to be resolved. An open reading frame whose 5' end overlaps with the pol gene, but is unrelated to the env gene, has been observed in HTLV-III/LAV and visna virus, both cytopathic mammalian retroviruses. Evidence presented here shows that this open reading frame is a bona fide coding sequence of HTLV-III/LAV and that its product, a protein with a molecular weight of 23,000, induces antibody production in the natural course of infection.