The reported incidence of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) continues to increase in countries throughout the world. On the basis of a polynomial model for extrapolation, the cumulative number of cases diagnosed and reported since 1981 in the United States is expected to double during the next year with over 12,000 additional cases projected to be diagnosed by July 1986. The annual incidence rates for single (never-married) men in Manhattan and San Francisco, intravenous drug users in New York City and New Jersey, and persons with hemophilia A ranged from 261 to 350 per 100,000 population during 1984. For single men aged 25 to 44 years in Manhattan and San Francisco, AIDS was the leading cause of premature mortality in 1984 as measured by years of potential life lost. Infection with HTLV-III/LAV is considerably more common than reported AIDS in high-risk populations and can persist at least for several years, so the presence of specific antibody should be considered presumptive evidence of current infection. The screening of donated blood and plasma for antibody to HTLV-III/LAV and use of safer clotting factor concentrates should greatly reduce HTLV-III/LAV transmission through blood and blood products. Most HTLV-III/LAV infections occur through sexual transmission, use of contaminated needles, and as a result of infected mothers passing the virus to newborns. Continued research commitment is needed to develop an HTLV-III/LAV vaccine and therapy for this infection. In the interim, widespread community efforts are needed to minimize transmission.