A dideoxynucleoside compound in which the 3'-hydroxy group on the sugar moiety has been replaced by an azido group. This modification prevents the formation of phosphodiester linkages which are needed for the completion of nucleic acid chains. The compound is a potent inhibitor of hiv replication, acting as a chain-terminator of viral dna during reverse transcription. It improves immunologic function, partially reverses the hiv-induced neurological dysfunction, and improves certain other clinical abnormalities associated with AIDS. Its principal toxic effect is dose-dependent suppression of bone marrow, resulting in anemia and leukopenia.