Two hundred and eleven New Orleans male street prostitutes were interviewed and tested for antibodies to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The subjects' lifestyle characteristics and their sex and drug use practices were evaluated to determine the prostitutes' potential to function as a vector for transmission of HIV into populations with currently low infection rates. Information about the customers of the male prostitutes was also obtained from the sample. The period prevalence of HIV in the sample was 175/1000. Many of the male prostitutes reported having wives or girlfriends, some of whom were prostitutes themselves. The prostitutes perceived a majority of their male customers to be heterosexual or bisexual (indicating sexual contact with women as well as men), many (39%) were thought to be married. Results from the study support the argument that male prostitutes serve as a bridge of HIV infection into populations with currently low infection rates through contact with both non-customer sexual partners and customers and thus indirectly to spouses and sexual partners of these individuals.