The Object of this study was to determine whether HIV infection is associated with decreased bone mineral density (BMD). BMD was measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry at total body, lumbar spine, and hip in 45 men with HIV infection and compared with sex, age, and weight-matched controls. Repeat scans were performed after a mean interval of 15 months in 21 patients to determine whether there were detectable losses of BMD. Compared with controls, the HIV patients had marginally lower BMD at the lumbar spine (P = 0.04) but there was no significant difference in total body or hip BMD. None of the patients had reduced BMD to levels associated with a diagnosis of osteoporosis. On longitudinal follow-up, a small decrease in total body BMD (-1.6%; P = 0.02) was observed but there was no significant change in spine and hip BMD. In spite of the many features of HIV infection that might be expected to cause a reduction in BMD such as cytokine activation, decreased physical activity, small bowel disease, hypogonadism, and direct infection of osteogenic cells by HIV, we found only minimal differences in BMD between HIV patients and controls. Furthermore, the HIV patients studied did not appear to show excessive loss in bone mineral over time.