A 36 year old male was admitted in December 1997 to hospital with afternoon fever, malaise and hepatosplenomegaly. He also had a dry cough, dyspnoea and anaemia. Pneumonia caused by Pneumocystis carinii and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection were documented. The HIV infection was confirmed in 1997 with 290,000 virus copies. The patient had been in the Mexican State of Chiapas which is known to be endemic for visceral leishmaniosis (VL) and localized cutaneous leishmaniosis (LCL). The visceral symptoms were diagnosed as VL and the causal agent was identified as Leishmania (L. ) mexicana. Identification of Leishmania was carried out by the analysis of amplified DNA with specific primers belonging to the Leishmania subgenus and by dot blot positive hybridisation of these polymerase chain reaction derived products with kDNA from the L. (L. ) mexicana MC strain used as probe. This is the first case in Mexico of VL caused by a species of Leishmania that typically produces a cutaneous disease form.