It is still unclear why some patients with HIV progress more slowly than others to developing full blown AIDS. In this study using flow cytometry we have investigated the TCRBV repertoire of peripheral blood T lymphocytes in 17 long-term non-progressing HIV patients (LTNP) to determine if there is a biased usage of T cell receptor V gene products. Patients were identified from hospital records and entered into the study. Three colour flow cytometry was used to determine the expression of the TCRBV3S5, BV5S1, BV5S2, BV5S3, BV6S1, BV7S1, BV9, BV11, BV12, BV13, BV14, BV16, BV17, BV18, BV20, BV21S3, BV22, and BV23 by CD8 and CD4 positive cells isolated from the peripheral blood of patients and controls. Increases in the absolute numbers of CD8+ T cells expressing TCRBV2 and 8 were observed in the HIV-LTNP population (P < 0.05 in both cases). No differences were seen in numbers of CD8+ T cells expressing other TCRBV or in any TCRBV within the CD4+ T cell popu-lation. At follow up (1-2 years later), those patients in which CD4 levels were below 500 x 106/l were those initially found to have lower levels of TCRBV8 +ve CD8 cells. A significant increase in the absolute numbers of T cells coexpressing the gamma delta (gammadelta) T cell receptor and CD8 were also seen in the HIV-LTNP patients compared with controls (P = 0.002). The increase in CD8+ T cells in the HIV-LTNP patients may be interpreted as either an antigen specific, or group of antigen specific responses to viral antigen, or less likely a viral superantigen. A low level of TCRBV8, CD8+ T cells might be predictive of a more rapid disease progression and might indicate a protective role for this population in HIV infected patients. The increase in gammadeltaT cells bearing the CD8 coreceptor suggests a role for this cell type in the response to HIV infection.