This study assessed the presence of cytomegalovirus (CMV) in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) in three subpopulations of HIV-infected patients and correlated its presence with clinical status during 3 mo of follow-up. Nineteen asymptomatic volunteers, six patients with CMV retinitis, and 46 patients with acute pulmonary symptoms underwent BAL and were assessed for CMV by cytopathology, conventional shell vial cultures, and antigen detection. Transbronchial biopsies were also obtained when possible and evaluated for histopathologic changes of CMV. All patients were followed for approximately 3 mo. Cytomegalovirus was detected in BAL in nine of 19 (47%) asymptomatic volunteers, in all six patients with CMV retinitis, and in 33 of 46 (72%) patients with pulmonary symptoms. Only one symptomatic patient with a positive CMV BAL culture developed clinically significant CMV pulmonary disease; this patient developed disseminated CMV and died. The only other death occurred in a patient with CMV retinitis who developed staphylococcal bacteremia. None of the asymptomatic volunteers or patients with CMV retinitis developed evidence of CMV pneumonia or any other organ disease with CMV. Cytomegalovirus is frequently detected in BAL from HIV-infected patients regardless of their pulmonary symptoms and its presence does not clinically predict significant pulmonary morbidity or mortality in 3 mo of follow-up.