Thirty five homosexual men (17 positive for antibody to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and 18 consistently negative) were vaccinated against hepatitis B virus infection. Eight of the 17 seropositive patients failed to develop detectable hepatitis B surface antibody within three months of the third injection compared with only one of the 18 seronegative patients (p less than 0.01). HIV infection is prevalent in the developed world in groups at risk for hepatitis B infection and in certain Third World countries where widespread vaccination programmes exist. This study shows the impact that coincident HIV infection may have on an otherwise efficacious vaccine. The efficacy of this and other vaccines in patients infected with HIV needs to be studied urgently.