Assays were developed to assess a variety of conditions and presentations of infectious HIV to potential inactivating sources. A range of commercially available disinfectants with active constituents including glutaraldehyde, chlorine, phenolics, alcohol, iodine and quaternary ammonium compounds was tested. In addition, u.v. light was investigated as a potential inactivating source. All products were assessed against cell-free HIV in culture medium and cell-associated HIV suspended in medium or whole human blood. All products completely inactivated cell-free HIV following a 1 min exposure. However, cell-associated HIV was more resilient, requiring exposure of 5 min or more for some disinfectants. The effectiveness of the disinfectants was further compromised in the presence of blood.