To determine the independent contribution of specific immunologic and nutritional factors on survival in HIV-1 disease, CD4 cell count, antiretroviral treatment, plasma levels of vitamins A, E, B6, and B12 and minerals selenium and zinc were considered in relation to relative risk for HIV-related mortality. Immune parameters and nutrients known to affect immune function were evaluated at 6-month intervals in 125 HIV-1-seropositive drug-using men and women in Miami, FL, over 3.5 years. A total of 21 of the HIV-1-infected participants died of HIV-related causes during the 3.5-year longitudinal study. Subclinical malnutrition (i.e., overly low levels of prealbumin, relative risk [RR] = 4.01, p < 0.007), deficiency of vitamin A (RR = 3.23, p < 0.03), vitamin B12 deficiency (RR = 8.33, p < 0.009), zinc deficiency (RR = 2.29.1, p < 0.04), and selenium deficiency (RR = 19.9, p < 0.0001) over time, but not zidovudine treatment, were shown to each be associated with HIV-1-related mortality independent of CD4 cell counts <200/mm3 at baseline, and CD4 counts over time. When all factors that could affect survival, including CD4 counts <200/mm3 at baseline, CD4 levels over time, and nutrient deficiencies were considered jointly, only CD4 counts over time (RR = 0.69, p < 0.04) and selenium deficiency (RR = 10.8, p < 0.002) were significantly associated with mortality. These results indicate that selenium deficiency is an independent predictor of survival for those with HIV-1 infection.