Succinylfluorescein-labeled dideoxyTTP has been used as a substrate for reverse transcriptase from HIV-1. On addition to the 3′-end of a primer molecule, there is a reduction of fluorescence yield of a factor of ca. 4. Release of a fluorescent DNA/DNA primer/template duplex from its complex with reverse transcriptase results in a reduction of fluorescence by a further factor of 2. The fluorescent nucleotide is incorporated somewhat less efficiently than 3′-azidoTMP and TMP, which show similar incorporation kinetics. Fluorescent chain-terminated primers have been used to investigate the interaction of normal and chain-terminated primer/template complexes with reverse transcriptase. The dissociation constant of a 36/18-mer was 0.65 nM, whereas that of the same complex after the addition of the fluorescent chain-terminating nucleotide to the primer was 3 nM at 25 °C. The rate of dissociation of the latter complex from the enzyme was 0.04 s−1. This was decreased by a factor of ca. 10 at high concentrations (>200 μΜ) of the nucleotide triphosphate complementary to the next position of the template. The results obtained suggest that potent inhibition of reverse transcriptase activity in in vitro assays results from formation of a slowly dissociating complex between the enzyme and chain-terminated primer/template complexes. However, arguments are presented that lead to the conclusion that this is not the mode of inhibition in cells invaded by HIV. At the prevailing relative concentrations in this situation, chain termination resulting in incomplete transcription is likely to be the major factor.