Using infrared oculography, we recorded the eye movements in a group of patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), with or without the AIDS dementia complex (ADC). Our aim was to determine whether the severity of dementia could be correlated with abnormalities of eye movement and whether eye movement abnormalities could be detected prior to the onset of clinical dementia. Abnormalities of eye movement were present in seven of seven patients with mild, moderate, or severe ADC and in six of seven AIDS or asymptomatic human immunodeficiency virus-seropositive patients without clinical dementia, but at risk for ADC. The eye movement abnormalities detected included disturbances of both saccadic and smooth-pursuit function, and their severity correlated strongly with the severity of dementia. The abnormalities were qualitatively similar to those that occur in Alzheimer's disease but quantitatively less severe. Recording of eye movements may be a valuable, noninvasive technique for the early detection of neurologic dysfunction in asymptomatic patients who are seropositive for human immunodeficiency virus or in patients with AIDS, even prior to other clinical evidence of ADC. In particular, it may be of use in selecting high-risk patients requiring antiviral therapy and in monitoring the neurologic response to such treatment.