Betulinic acid (BA) derivatives are low molecular weight organic compounds synthesized from a plant-derived natural product. Several BA derivatives are potent and highly selective inhibitors of HIV-1. Depending on the specific side-chain modification, these compounds function by inhibiting HIV fusion or, as recently demonstrated, by interfering with a specific step in HIV-1 maturation. BA derivatives have potential as novel HIV-1 therapies, and additional studies of their mechanisms of action are likely to further define the novel targets of these compounds and elucidate the basic biology of HIV-1 fusion and maturation. In this review, recent studies of the novel mechanisms of action of this interesting class of antiviral compounds are discussed.