In this paper, we look at the incidence and predictive factors of pre-AIDS mortality among HIV-infected individuals, and injecting drug users (IDUs) in particular, and compare IDUs with non-IDUs. 627 patients (73 per cent IDUs) of the Edinburgh City Hospital HIV Cohort were enrolled pre-AIDS and followed up until September 1994. Analyses were performed using cumulative hazard and cumulative incidence estimators for a competing risks model, the Cox proportional hazards model and the non-parametric hazard estimator of Fusaro et al. (1993). The effects of age and CD4 T-lymphocyte cell count, progressively depleted during HIV progression, were investigated. 60 deaths occurred in AIDS-free patients during follow-up; 25 were drug-related deaths in IDUs. Pre-AIDS mortality was higher among IDUs than non-IDUs (p = 0.07). The cumulative incidences of pre-AIDS death after five years from enrollment were 11 per cent in IDUs and 6 per cent in non-IDUs; the cumulative AIDS incidences were, respectively, 19 per cent and 32 per cent. After eight years, cumulative pre-AIDS death incidence was 15 per cent among IDUs; cumulative AIDS incidence among IDUs was 35 per cent. Both groups had similar risks of medically-related (non-AIDS)-MRNA-death. Age and CD4 count were both individually predictive of MRNA death (relative risks (RRs); 2.1 per decade of life, p < 0.01; and 1.9 for each 100 cells per 100 microliters lost, p < 0.0001), although when used together age was less significant (RR 1.6, p = 0.07). Neither was statistically significant for drug-related mortality, although hazard may be lower in older individuals and may increase with falling CD4 count. The drug-related mortality was 1.1 per cent: 2.3 per cent in the first two years after enrollment, and 0.4 per cent thereafter. We conclude that older HIV-infected individuals are at greater risk of medically-related death before AIDS. This risk increases as CD4 count declines. Drug-related hazard may be greater in younger individuals and may increase as CD4 counts fall, but neither effect was formally significant.