Human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) entry into cells is dependent upon the viral envelope glycoprotein-catalyzed fusion of the viral and cellular membranes. Following receptor activation of the envelope, the transmembrane glycoprotein (TM) is thought to undergo a series of fusogenic conformational transitions through a rod-like prehairpin intermediate to a compact trimer-of-hairpins structure. Importantly, synthetic peptides that interfere with the conformational changes of TM are potent inhibitors of membrane fusion and HTLV-1 entry, suggesting that TM is a valid target for antiviral therapy. To assess the utility of TM as a vaccine target and to explore further the function of TM in HTLV-1 pathogenesis, we have begun to examine the immunological properties of TM. Here we demonstrate that a recombinant trimer-of-hairpins form of the TM ectodomain is strongly immunogenic. Monoclonal antibodies raised against the TM immunogen specifically bind to trimeric forms of TM, including structures thought to be important for membrane fusion. Importantly, these antibodies recognize the envelope on virally infected cells but, surprisingly, fail to neutralize envelope-mediated membrane fusion or infection by pseudotyped viral particles. Our data imply that, even in the absence of overt membrane fusion, there are multiple forms of TM on virally infected cells and that some of these display fusion-associated structures. Finally, we demonstrate that many of the antibodies possess the ability to recruit complement to TM, suggesting that envelope-derived immunogens capable of eliciting a combination of neutralizing and complement-fixing antibodies would be of value as subunit vaccines for intervention in HTLV infections.