HIV-1 infection is characterized by genetic diversity wherein distinct viral subtypes (clades A, B, C, D, E, F, G, K and O) are expanding in different geographical regions. This article deals with the topic of HIV-1 subtype diversity in the context of sensitivity to antiretroviral drugs, drug resistance and viral fitness. Increasing evidence suggests that all clades of HIV probably display similar sensitivity to antiviral drugs. However, viruses from some subtypes and/or geographical regions may have a greater propensity to develop resistance against certain drugs than do other viral variants. In addition, differences in regard to replication capacity or fitness may exist among various HIV subtypes and differences in this regard may potentially become magnified under conditions of drug resistance. Immunological pressures may also play an important role in the evolution of viral subtypes that may impact on ultimate drug resistance profiles.