Lentiviruses, including human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), typically encode fusion glycoproteins with long cytoplasmic tails (CTs). We previously reported that immature HIV-1 particles are inhibited for fusion with target cells by a mechanism requiring the 152-amino-acid CT of gp41. The gp41 CT was also shown to mediate the detergent-resistant association of the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein complex with immature HIV-1 particles, indicating that the gp41 CT forms a stable complex with Gag in immature virions. In the present study, we analyzed the effects of progressive truncations and point mutations in the gp41 CT on the fusion of mature and immature HIV-1 particles with target cells. We also determined the effects of these mutations on the detergent-resistant association of gp41 with immature HIV-1 particles. Removal of the C-terminal 28 amino acids relieved the dependence of HIV-1 fusion on maturation. However, a mutant Env protein lacking this region remained associated with immature HIV-1 particles treated with nonionic detergent. Further mutational analysis of the C-terminal region of gp41 revealed two specific sequences required for maturation-dependent HIV-1 fusion. Collectively, our results demonstrate that the extreme C terminus of gp41 plays a key role in coupling HIV-1 fusion competence to virion maturation. They further indicate that the stable association of gp41 with Gag in immature virions is not sufficient for inhibition of immature HIV-1 particle fusion.