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We molecularly cloned the gag and env genes of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and expressed fragments of these genes in Escherichia coli. Using the recombinant core and envelope proteins, we developed two competitive immunoassays (CIAs). Samples that recognized either the envelope or core proteins were considered positive for antibodies to HIV. This test system was comparable with western blot in detecting antibodies in patients with AIDS or AIDS-related complex that were repeatably reactive in the HIV screening test. All 360 individuals who were positive by western blot were positive by the CIA. A total of 844 samples repeatably reactive by an ELISA screening test were negative both by western blot and by the CIA; 48 samples positive by ELISA, but negative or indeterminate by western blot, were positive by the CIA. Alternate research procedures verified the positivity of these individuals. These data indicate that the CIA described here may be useful as an adjunct or alternative to the western blot.