Background: Highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) is the current HIV/AIDS treatment modality. Despite the fact that HAART is very effective in suppressing HIV-1 replication and reducing the mortality of HIV/AIDS patients, it has become increasingly clear that HAART does not offer an ultimate cure to HIV/AIDS. The high cost of the HAART regimen has impeded its delivery to over 90% of the HIV/AIDS population in the world. This reality has urgently called for the need to develop inexpensive alternative anti-HIV/AIDS therapy. This need has further manifested by recent clinical trial failures in anti-HIV-1 vaccines and microbicides. In the current study, we characterized a panel of extracts of traditional Chinese medicinal herbal plants for their activities against HIV-1 replication. Methods: Crude and fractionated extracts were prepared from various parts of nine traditional Chinese medicinal herbal plants in Hainan Island, China. These extracts were first screened for their anti-HIV activity and cytotoxicity in human CD4+ Jurkat cells. Then, a single-round pseudotyped HIV-luciferase reporter virus system (HIV-Luc) was used to identify potential anti-HIV mechanisms of these extracts. Results: Two extracts, one from Euphorbiaceae, Trigonostema xyphophylloides (TXE) and one from Dipterocarpaceae, Vatica astrotricha (VAD) inhibited HIV-1 replication and syncytia formation in CD4+ Jurkat cells, and had little adverse effects on host cell proliferation and survival. TXE and VAD did not show any direct inhibitory effects on the HIV-1 RT enzymatic activity. Treatment of these two extracts during the infection significantly blocked infection of the reporter virus. However, pre-treatment of the reporter virus with the extracts and treatment of the extracts post-infection had little effects on the infectivity or gene expression of the reporter virus. Conclusion: These results demonstrate that TXE and VAD inhibit HIV-1 replication likely by blocking HIV-1 interaction with target cells, i.e., the interaction between gp120 and CD4/CCR5 or gp120 and CD4/CXCR4 and point to the potential of developing these two extracts to be HIV-1 entry inhibitors.