Lower respiratory tract infection is the most common complication in the immunocompromised patient. From January 1991 to December 1995, 785 consecutive patients with suspected respiratory tract infections were studied. One hundred ninety-nine viruses were isolated from 182 (23%) of 785 bronchoalveolar lavage fluid specimens. Cytomegalovirus was isolated from 131 patients, herpes simplex virus was recovered from 31, and conventional respiratory viruses (CRVs) were recovered from 36. There were 9 influenza A viruses, 2 influenza B viruses, 7 parainfluenza viruses, 5 respiratory syncytial viruses, 5 adenoviruses, 6 enteroviruses, and 3 rhinoviruses. We identified 22 patients from whom a CRV was the only microorganism recovered; 13 patients developed pneumonia, 10 had acute respiratory failure, 5 required support with mechanical ventilation, and 5 (23%) died. In conclusion, CRVs are frequent causes of respiratory illnesses and are associated with high rates of morbidity and mortality among immunocompromised patients.