Community-based AIDS research programs were initially federally funded in 1989. Since then, the Terry Beirn Community Programs for Clinical Research on AIDS has mandated that research units develop and maintain community advisory boards to provide advice and communicate community preferences in AIDS research. Seventeen community-based AIDS research units formed community advisory boards (CABs) based on a model developed by the Community Consortium at San Francisco General Hospital. Social workers employed by these AIDS research units surveyed 267 CAB members to ascertain board characteristics and members' perceptions of program activities. Implications for social work and future research are discussed.