The objective of this case-control study, conducted in a large Italian university hospital over a 12-month period, was to evaluate the risk factors associated with the emergence of azole resistant oral candidosis in 64 Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infected patients. A swab was obtained from each patient by brushing candidal lesions. Candida albicans was isolated in 41 patients (64%), Candida glabrata in ten (16%), Candida krusei in five (8%), Candida kefyr in two (3%), Candida tropicalis in two (3%), and Candida lipolytica and Candida guilliermondii in one case, respectively. Two patients suffered a double infection i.e. C. albicans+C. krusei and C. albicans+C. glabrata, respectively. Candida species were tested in vitro for their susceptibility to ketoconazole, fluconazole, itraconazole and amphotericin B. MICs of the four antifungal drugs were obtained for each yeast using a microdilution broth method developed in our laboratory. Twenty four (37%) of the isolated strains were resistant both to itraconazole and fluconazole, five (8%) to fluconazole alone, and two (3%) to ketoconazole alone, while none of the isolated strains was resistant to amphotericin B. Patients with oral candidosis caused by a strain resistant to one or more azole drug were compared to control patients with azole-susceptible oral candidosis. On univariate analysis, more than five episodes of oral candidosis in the last year (P = 0.01), previous use of azole therapy (P = 0.001), C2-3 category of HIV infection (P = 0.01) and low number of circulating CD4+ T-cells (P = 0.03) were significantly associated with an increased risk for the development of azole resistance. However, previous use of azole therapy was the only factor selected by a stepwise logistic regression analysis which was independently associated with the isolation of azole resistant strains (P = 0.003). Our findings indicate that, in view of the potential risk for the emergence and selection of azole resistant strains of Candida in patients with AIDS, it is important to carefully choose the antifungal drug for the therapy of mild fungal infections after evaluation of the in-vitro susceptibility of the isolated strains.