The dimerization initiation site (DIS) stem-loop within the HIV-1 RNA genome is vital for the production of infectious virions in T-cell lines but not in primary cells. In comparison to peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), which can support the replication of both wild type and HIV-1 DIS RNA mutants, we have found that DIS RNA mutants are up to 100 000-fold less infectious than wild-type HIV-1 in T-cell lines. We have also found that the cell-type-dependent replication of HIV-1 DIS RNA mutants is largely producer cell-dependent, with mutants displaying a greater defect in viral cDNA synthesis when viruses were not derived from PBMCs. While many examples exist of host-pathogen interplays that are mediated via proteins, analogous examples which rely on nucleic acid triggers are limited. Our data provide evidence to illustrate that primary T-lymphocytes rescue, in part, the replication of HIV-1 DIS RNA mutants through mediating the reverse transcription process in a cell-type-dependent manner. Our data also suggest the presence of a host cell factor that acts within the virus producer cells. In addition to providing an example of an RNA-mediated cell-type-dependent block to viral replication, our data also provides evidence which help to resolve the dilemma of how HIV-1 genomes with mismatched DIS sequences can recombine to generate chimeric viral RNA genomes.