Cryptococcal meningitis causes significant morbidity and mortality in persons with AIDS. Of 236 AIDS patients treated with amphotericin B plus flucytosine, 29 (12%) died within 2 weeks and 62 (26%) died before 10 weeks. Just 129 (55%) of 236 patients were alive with negative cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) cultures at 10 weeks. Multivariate analyses identified that titer of cryptococcal antigen in CSF, serum albumin level, and CD4 cell count, together with dose of amphotericin B, had the strongest joint association with failure to achieve negative CSF cultures by day 14. Among patients with similar CSF cryptococcal antigen titers, CD4 cell counts, and serum albumin levels, the odds of failure at week 10 for those without negative CSF cultures by day 14 was five times that for those with negative CSF cultures by day 14 (odds ratio, 5.0; 95% confidence interval, 2.2-10.9). Prognosis is dismal for patients with AIDS-related cryptococcal meningitis. Multivariate analyses identified three components that, along with initial treatment, have the strongest joint association with early outcome. Clearly, more effective initial therapy and patient management strategies that address immune function and nutritional status are needed to improve outcomes of this disease.