The prevalence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) risk factors was evaluated by questionnaire survey in 1565 consecutive patients who attended an adult A&E department in Brisbane over a 2-month period. The survey revealed that a total of 144 (9.2%) patients could be considered at risk of HIV infection (high-risk group) because of known seropositivity, admission to HIV high-risk factors or engaging in high-risk activities. The remaining 1421 patients who did not acknowledge any high-risk behaviour were classified as an 'unknown-risk' group. More than 70% of the HIV high-risk patient group were under the age of 30 years. A total of 275 (17.6%) patients presented with open wounds and/or needed hospitalization (23 [1.5%] high-risk patients). Of the 490 respondents who engaged in short term sexual relationships, 310 (63.3%) practised unprotected coitus, 32 of these including four seropositives were classified in the high-risk group. The patients were asked if they were in favour of an HIV testing service at their local A&E department; 1324 (86.6%) were in agreement 121 of whom were in the high-risk group. There was no significant difference (chi 2 = 0.093: P greater than 0.7) in opinion between the 'unknown risk' and high-risk patient groups on this matter.