HIV infection has now been consistently identified as the major cause of death in young Africans in both urban and rural areas. In Africa, several studies have defined the clinical presentation of HIV disease but there have only been a limited number of autopsy studies. Because of the scarcity of autopsy data and the possibility of differing type and frequency of opportunistic infections between different geographic locations we set out to study consecutive new adult medical admissions to a tertiary referral hospital in Nairobi and perform autopsies on a sample of HIV-1-positive and HIV-1-negative patients who died in the hospital ward.