We discuss recruiting and interviewing injecting drug users and using research as health promotion in the context of collecting information related to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) from a convenience sample of 200 injecting drug users, half in treatment and half not, in 1989 and 1990 in Perth, Western Australia. A variety of recruiting methods were used including advertising, referral by agency staff, 'snowballing' and approaches to personal contacts and others known to inject by the interviewer. Snowballing and personal contacts were the most successful means of recruiting those not in treatment, while advertising was comparatively unsuccessful with this group because of the importance of establishing the credibility of the study and the interviewer among injecting drug users before they will volunteer to be involved. The promotion of behavioural risk reduction among respondents during the interview is detailed. We argue that the traditionally rigid separation between research and intervention is inappropriate in the HIV/AIDS context. When lives are potentially at stake, any contact with injecting drug users, especially those not in treatment (where may receive HIV/AIDS education), must be used as an HIV/AIDS prevention opportunity, and the interview is an ideal opportunity. The employment of research as community intervention is also discussed.