The most commonly used animal model for the study of HIV-1 infection in humans is the infection of non-human primates by simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV). The animal hosts used most frequently are different species of macaques, which are readily infected with SIV, and can therefore be used to study natural infection, pathogenesis, therapy, and vaccine efficacy. The study of HIV-1 infection in humans relies heavily on the quantification of HIV-1 load (i.e. viral RNA) in patient plasma. Given the importance of HIV-1 RNA levels in humans, it follows that SIV RNA levels in animals are also relevant to the study of infection in this model system. This report describes the development of the isothermal amplification-based NASBA technology for the quantification of SIV RNA load in macaque plasma. Evaluation of the assay using model systems demonstrated that the assay is accurate and reproducible over nearly four orders of magnitude. Viral RNA load data were compared to other infection measurements in the macaque system. Further, the assay was used to provide copy number levels of SIV RNA in macaque plasma samples, permitting characterization of viral load during the course of SIV infection.