Neuropsychologic function was assessed in 13 children with symptomatic human immunodeficiency virus disease (Centers for Disease Control Class P2), ranging in age from 14 months to 12 years. Before the initiation of treatment, eight patients were classified as having encephalopathy. Psychologic tests were administered both before and after 6 and 12 months of continuous-infusion azidothymidine (AZT; zidovudine) treatment. After 6 months of treatment a significant increase of 15.5 (+/- 3.3) IQ points was demonstrated in general cognitive functioning (p less than 0.001). Follow-up for 10 of these patients indicated that after 12 months of AZT therapy, they had maintained their gains in IQ points. Improvements in adaptive behavior after 6 months of therapy, assessed with a standardized interview, paralleled the findings on the IQ data. No significant differences in the amount of change was observed for the different subgroups. The magnitude of these improvements could not be explained by practice effects, environmental changes, or general improvement in physical state. We conclude that neuropsychologic function was significantly improved with continuous infusion AZT treatment.