We report the results of a longitudinal study of RNA splicing patterns in 31 early-stage human immunodeficiency virus disease patients with an average follow-up time of 3 years. Eighteen patients showed no evidence for disease progression, whereas 13 patients either showed a ≥50% reduction in baseline CD4 count or developed opportunistic infections. Levels of unspliced, tat, rev, and nef mRNAs in peripheral blood mononuclear cells were measured by a reverse transcriptase-quantitative, competitive PCR assay. Viral RNA was detected in all patients at all time points. All 13 rapid progressors had viral RNA loads that were ≥1 log unit greater than those of the slow progressors. In addition, seven of the rapid progressors showed a reduction of more than threefold in the ratio of spliced to unspliced RNA over the 3 years of follow-up. Conversely, two slow progressors with intermediate levels of viral RNA showed no splicing shift. These results confirm earlier observations that viral RNA is uniformly expressed in early-stage patients. We further show that cellular RNA viral load is predictive of disease progression. Importantly, the shift from a predominately spliced or regulatory viral mRNA pattern to a predominately unspliced pattern both is associated with disease progression and adds predictive utility to measurement of either RNA class alone.