We investigated the potential anti-HIV-1 activity of the candidate microbicide 5-hydroxytyrosol (5-HT) both in primary human cervical tissue explants (CTE), established from tissues of women undergoing histerectomy, and in endometrium-associated leukocytes (EAL). CTE were exposed to either the laboratory-adapted HIV-1BaL or to primary viral isolates in the presence or absence of 5-HT or 3TC/lamivudine as control and were then monitored for 12 days in terms of HIV-1 p24 Gag antigen production in culture supernatants. HIV-1BaL replication was also evaluated in EAL by reverse transcriptase (RT) activity. The highest nontoxic concentrations of 5-HT (200 and 100 μM for CTE and EAL, respectively) exerted a significant inhibitory effect on virus replication in both primary cell systems. 5-HT did not cause significant alterations of the activation profile of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, in terms of CD4, CCR5, CD25, CD69 and HLA-DR expression, although it decreased the percentage of CD38+CD8+ T cells. Thus, 5-HT deserves consideration as a potential candidate microbicide for preventing HIV-1 transmission or curtailing its replication in the female reproductive tract. © 2017 Elsevier B.V.