p53 expression and activation have been associated to faster human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disease progression, most probably by inducing CD4+ T cell death but also through its cooperative effect in the control of viral gene transcription by viral regulatory proteins. Here, we show that RNA interference of p53 in HIV-1 reporter (HeLa P4-R5 MAGI) and lymphoid (SupT1) cell lines blocked HIV-1 and Tat-induced transcription from the HIV-1 promoter and HIV-1 replication in acutely infected cells, suggesting a cooperative role of p53 in HIV-1 transcription. Contrary to SupT1 cells, which encode several mutations on the p53 DNA binding domain, death of HIV-1-induced syncytia was reduced in cocultures of HeLa P4-R5 MAGI with persistently infected HIV-1 cells. To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of the effect of the loss of function of p53 in HIV-1 replication, which is independent on its classical DNA binding activity. Our results suggest two independent roles for p53 in HIV-1 infection: cooperation in HIV long-terminal repeat transcription and virus-induced cell death. © Society for Leukocyte Biology.