Background: MicroRNA (miRNA)-mediated RNA silencing is integral to virtually every cellular process including cell cycle progression and response to virus infection. The interplay between RNA silencing and HIV-1 is multifaceted, and accumulating evidence posits a strike-counterstrike interface that alters the cellular environment to favor virus replication. For instance, miRNA-mediated RNA silencing of HIV-1 translation is antagonized by HIV-1 Tat RNA silencing suppressor activity. The activity of HIV-1 accessory proteins Vpr/Vif delays cell cycle progression, which is a process prominently modulated by miRNA. The expression profile of cellular miRNA is altered by HIV-1 infection in both cultured cells and clinical samples. The open question stands of what, if any, is the contribution of Tat RNA silencing suppressor activity or Vpr/Vif activity to the perturbation of cellular miRNA by HIV-1.Results: Herein, we compared the perturbation of miRNA expression profiles of lymphocytes infected with HIV-1NL4-3 or derivative strains that are deficient in Tat RNA silencing suppressor activity (Tat K51A substitution) or ablated of the vpr/vif open reading frames. Microarrays recapitulated the perturbation of the cellular miRNA profile by HIV-1 infection. The miRNA expression trends overlapped ~50% with published microarray results on clinical samples from HIV-1 infected patients. Moreover, the number of miRNA perturbed by HIV-1 was largely similar despite ablation of Tat RSS activity and Vpr/Vif; however, the Tat RSS mutation lessened HIV-1 downregulation of twenty-two miRNAs.Conclusions: Our study identified miRNA expression changes attributable to Tat RSS activity in HIV-1NL4-3. The results accomplish a necessary step in the process to understand the interface of HIV-1 with host RNA silencing activity. The overlap in miRNA expression trends observed between HIV-1 infected CEMx174 lymphocytes and primary cells supports the utility of cultured lymphocytes as a tractable model to investigate interplay between HIV-1 and host RNA silencing. The subset of miRNA determined to be perturbed by Tat RSS in HIV-1 infection provides a focal point to define the gene networks that shape the cellular environment for HIV-1 replication.