Since the late 1970s, 8.4 million people worldwide, including 1.7 million children, have died of AIDS, and an estimated 22 million people are infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)(1). During 1995 and 1996, major clinical and laboratory discoveries regarding HIV pathogenesis provided new hope for the prevention and treatment of HIV infection. One major discovery was that members of the chemokine receptor family serve as cofactors for HIV entry into cells. We describe the role of allelic polymorphism in the gene coding for the CCR5 chemokine receptor with regard to susceptibility to and disease course of HIV infection. We also examine the effect of this discovery on medical and public health practices.