The ability to replace an inhibitor bound to the HIV-1 protease in single crystals with other potent inhibitors offers the possibility of investigating a series of protease inhibitors rapidly and conveniently with the use of X-ray crystallography. This approach affords a fast turnaround of structural information for iterative rational drug designs and obviates the need for studying the complex structures by co-crystallization. The replacement approach has been successfully used with single crystals of the HIV-1 protease complexed with a weak inhibitor. The structures of the complexes obtained by the replacement method are similar to those determined by co-crystallization.