We have examined 9 healthy volunteers and 63 HIV-patients (16 asymptomatic patients and 47 patients with clinical AIDS-dementia complex, ADC) by magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) and imaging (MRI) on a Siemens Magnetom SP63 (1.5 T). Proton MRS of the brain was performed at 63 MHz using the PRESS sequence (echo time = 135 ms, TR = 1.6 s). Four main results have been found: (1) HIV-related encephalopathy induces significant modifications of brain metabolism analyzed by MRS and the most sensitive metabolic parameter is the N-acetyl-aspartate/Choline ratio, (2) the correlation between MRS and MRI is good in 75% of patients, (3) in 4 of the 16 neuro-asymptomatic patients (i.e. 25%) a metabolic encephalopathy was found while MRI was still normal, and (4) MR spectra describe 3 different pathological metabolic patterns in the brain of HIV patients. Two patterns might correspond to the two entities of HIV-induced lesions i.e. HIV encephalitis and HIV-related progressive leukoencephalopathy.