Estimated incidence rates are presented for three human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-associated cancers [Kaposi's sarcoma (KS), Burkitt's lymphoma (BL) and other non-Hodgkin's lymphomas (NHLs)] from across the African continent, based on data collected before the HIV epidemic. Mapping of the rates and comparisons with a range of geographical variables indicate completely different distributions for KS and BL but a degree of similarity in the occurrence of Burkitt's lymphoma and other NHLs. Comparisons with rates elsewhere in the world suggest, most notably, that KS was as common in some regions of sub-Saharan Africa as was cancer of the colon in much of Western Europe. Comparison with data from the era of AIDS indicates 20-fold increases in the occurrence of Kaposi's sarcoma in Uganda and Zimbabwe. The highest rates for BL were three to four times the rates for leukaemia at young ages in Western populations, but the general incidence of other NHL was no higher than in the West and very low rates were indicated for much of southern Africa.