Increasing evidence supports early brain infection by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Definitive temporal studies determining when and within which brain cells viral DNA is present are lacking. This study utilized simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)-infected macaques sacrificed at days 10, 21, 56, and 84 post inoculation. Laser-microdissection isolated pure perivascular macrophage, parenchymal microglia, and astrocyte populations. Nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and sequencing determined the presence and characteristics of SIV V3 and V1 env DNA from each population. At day 10, SIV DNA was detected in perivascular macrophage and astrocytes but not parenchymal microglia. gp41 expression was restricted to perivascular macrophage. At day 21, SIV DNA was not detected in any cell type. At day 56, SIV DNA was detectable in perivascular macrophage from one of two macaques, with no gp41 expression detected. At day 84 (morphologic and clinical encephalitis), SIV DNA was detected in all cell types, gp41 was only detected in perivascular macrophage and parenchymal microglia. The neurovirulent molecular clone, SIV/17E-Fr, was the only genotype identified in the brain cell populations. Early, productive brain SIV infection was transient and restricted to trafficking perivascular macrophage. During the nonencephalitic stage, there was a period of time when no SIV DNA could be detected in the brain cell populations. SIV was then seen to reenter the brain via infected perivascular macrophage, leading to productive infection of brain parenchymal macrophage/microglia with a terminal phase of encephalitis. These data challenge current notions of a HIV reservoir within latently infected, semipermanent brain cells and has significant implications for the timing and design of therapies to prevent HIV encephalitis (HIVE).