Area Health Education Centers (AHECs) have been viewed as an appropriate vehicle for implementing new initiatives for training health professionals who will work along the U.S.-Mexico border. Perceptions about this program in Texas were evaluated from July 1988 to June 1989 to identify problems and formulate suggestions that might be of use to academic health science centers (HSCs)--and in particular medical schools--working with Hispanic populations. Interviews were conducted with 116 people: the presidents and/or deans of all eight Texas HSCs and/or medical schools, other deans and faculty, community leaders in five border counties, and state officials. The school and community perspectives about past and present AHEC activities were compared. Some of the barriers were: insufficient components of the health care delivery system to support medical education in severely underserved areas; differing school and community priorities; cultural differences between the school faculty and the community; and feeling among community physicians and dentists that AHECs were a source of competition. The school and community respondents agreed that the AHEC program needs more cooperative planning and training that emphasizes public health education for future AHEC-like activities with border populations.