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The prevalence and importance of Cyclospora cayetanensis as an enteropathogen among 71 patients (22-45 years old) with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and 132 children with diarrhea (0-12 years old) from Venezuela was assessed retrospectively. Two to three stool samples from each patient attending our parasitology laboratory for parasitologic and medical assistance were examined. For identification of the coccidium, modified Ziehl-Neelsen carbolfuchsin staining of formalin-ether stool concentrates was used, and for other intestinal parasites, iron-hematoxylin-stained smears and formalin-ether concentrates were examined. Cyclospora oocysts were found in seven (9.8%) of 71 AIDS patients and seven (5.3%) of 132 children with diarrhea. Other pathogenic parasites were present in most of the patients (9 of 14, 64.3%) shedding oocysts. Cyclosporiasis predominated in children 2-5 years of age with respect to those < or = one year of age (P < 0.05). The findings suggest that C. cayetanensis is common in diarrheal patients from Venezuela. However, the role of the parasite as the causal agent of diarrhea in these patients is uncertain.