Tat-independent transcription of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) plays an important role in virus life cycle before biologically significant levels of Tat protein have been accumulated. Using a latently infected T-cell line containing an integrated Tat-defective HIV-1 provirus, we examined whether factors known to up-regulate the HIV-1 expression in vitro can replace the requirement for a functional Tat protein and induce the expression of the Tat-defective HIV-1 provirus. Both tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) and herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) infection stimulated transcription of the Tat-defective HIV-1 provirus to comparable levels, but in HSV-1-infected cells, the cytoplasmic HIV-1 transcripts were not efficiently translated in the absence of Tat protein and were excluded from the large polysomes. However, HSV-1 infection did not affect the distribution of cellular gamma-actin RNA or 28S RNA in the polysomal fractions. The translational block of HIV-1 RNA was not mediated by the virion-associated host cell shutoff protein (vhs); dissociation of HIV-1 transcripts from the polysomes and inefficient translation was also observed in cells infected with the vhs-defective mutant of HSV-1 (vhs-1). Overexpression of Rev protein did not rescue the synthesis of HIV-1 proteins in these cells; however, the observed inhibition of HIV-1 RNA translation was efficiently overcome in the presence of Tat protein or TNF-alpha. These findings suggest that, in contrast to TNF-alpha, HSV-1 infection is not able to induce a full cycle of HIV-1 replication and that cytokines and Tat have a critical role in the activation of HIV-1 provirus by HSV-1.