In a study performed to determine which regions of the human T-cell lymphotrophic virus type III (HTLV-III) may represent vaccine candidates to prevent the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), a synthetic peptide corresponding to amino acid sequence 735 to 752 of the precursor envelope glycoprotein of HTLV-III was used to immunize rabbits. The resulting rabbit antiserum to the synthetic peptide specifically recognized the precursor envelope glycoprotein (gp160) of HTLV-III. Human sera positive for antibody to HTLV-III reacted with this peptide. These findings indicate that synthetic peptides can be used to induce an immune response directed against a native envelope glycoprotein epitope of HTLV-III. The data are discussed in terms of using synthetic peptides to identify antigenic determinants involved in the induction of protective immunity and possibly as vaccine candidates against the etiologic agent of AIDS.