A retrospective review of 71 children infected with human immunodeficiency virus cared for over a 3.5-year period revealed that 44 of 71 (63%) required a bacterial culture and 27 of 71 (37%) had bacteriologically documented infection. There were 125 episodes in 27 patients. Pneumonia (24 of 125 (19%)), upper respiratory tract syndromes (23 of 125 (19%)), urinary tract infection (24 of 125 (19%)) and wound infection (12 of 125 (10%)) were the most common syndromes identified. Bacteremic infections occurred in 35 of 125 (28%), and in 17 of 125 (14%) no other primary source could be identified. Pneumococci (11 of 35 (31%)) and Salmonella (4 of 35 (11%)) were the most common blood isolates; however, a wide spectrum of Gram-positive and Gram-negative pathogens were recovered. Bacterial pneumonia directly contributed to the death of 4 patients, in whom pneumonia caused by Pneumocystis carinii (2), cytomegalovirus (1) or varicella-zoster virus (1) also coexisted, respectively. Absolute T4 counts less than 400 and depressed lymphocyte-proliferative responses to diphtheria and tetanus toxoids, Candida antigen and pokeweed mitogen correlated with the occurrence of bacterial infection in human immunodeficiency virus-infected children. Although bacterial infections are a frequent cause of morbidity in human immunodeficiency virus-infected children, they are usually treatable.