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A study of the outcome of surgical treatment of ulceration of the anal margin occurring in male homosexuals with HIV infection was undertaken. Ten patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome and three patients with symptomatic HIV infection were referred to the Department of Surgery with painful anal ulceration which had not responded to medical treatment. The medical treatments given prior to surgical referral included high dose oral acyclovir, intravenous foscarnet and broad spectrum antibiotics. Excision biopsy was performed in 12 patients and in 11 cases was followed by healing of the ulcers within 10 weeks. One patient died 2 weeks postoperatively from Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia without healing. The response to excision biopsy was unexpected but suggests that surgical excision may be beneficial for lesions which have failed to respond to aggressive medical treatment.