We investigated the relationship between three prognostic markers, CD4 lymphocyte count, serum beta2-microglobulin (beta2M) levels, and CD8+,CD38+ lymphocyte percent, and the association with the rate of development of AIDS. The markers were measured regularly throughout follow-up in 224 patients. The risk of developing AIDS during follow-up was investigated using Cox proportional hazards models. Time-updated values of the prognostic markers were used, which modelled the risk of AIDS according to the latest measurement of the marker rather than using a single value of the marker at baseline. During a median follow-up period of 13.6 months (range 0.5-31.9 months), 34 cases of AIDS occurred. In a univariate analysis, all three markers predicted the development of AIDS; a 10% increase in the percentage of CD8+ T cells expressing CD38+ resulted in an 88% increase in the risk of AIDS (95% confidence interval: 53-130%; p < 0.0001). After adjustment for the current CD4 count and beta2M, a 10% increase in the CD8+,CD38+ population was associated with a 37% increase in the risk of AIDS (95% confidence interval: 4-81%; p = 0.02). Thus, the percentage CD8+,CD38+ level predicts the development of AIDS independently of the latest CD4 count and beta2M. This assay is therefore potentially useful in conjunction with blood CD4 counts and serum beta2M levels in patient management and clinical trial design.