To define the medical characteristics of intravascular drug users in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, we examined 280 men, of whom 235 were infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), being treated in a rehabilitation center. The patients used mainly opium, often in shooting galleries (50%). The prevalence of oral candidiasis (58%) and zoster infection (20%) was high in HIV-seropositive patients, whereas oral hairy leukoplasia and Kaposi's sarcoma were absent. The prevalence of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome was 24%. More than 80% of the patients had infections with hepatitis C virus, hepatitis B virus, cytomegalovirus, or human T cell lymphotropic virus type-1. The CD4+ cell counts correlated well with viral load. Only HIV-1 subtype E was detected in the 30 patients tested. A cohort study of HIV-infected subjects in this population seems feasible, and would permit introduction of anti-retroviral therapy The large number of HIV-seronegative subjects sharing the same at-risk practices as the HIV-infected subjects raises the possibility of natural protection in this population.