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To determine the effect of an HIV-1 counselling program on 149 married Zairian couples with discordant HIV-1 serology, the rates of HIV-1 seroconversion and reported condom utilization have been observed during 382.4 person-years of follow-up (minimum follow-up time per couple of 6 months). Before determination of HIV-1 serostatus and counselling, less than 5% of these couples had ever used a condom. One month after notification of HIV-1 serostatus and counselling, 70.7% of couples reported using condoms during all episodes of sexual intercourse. At 18 months follow-up, 77.4% of the 140 couples still being followed reported continued use of condoms during all episodes of sexual intercourse. At the time of notification of HIV-1 serostatus, 18 couples experienced acute psychological distress. Home-based counselling by trained nurses resolved these difficulties in all but three couples who subsequently divorced. Intensive counselling following notification of HIV-1 serostatus led to low rates of HIV-1 seroconversion (3.1% per 100 person-years of observation) in Zairian married couples with discordant HIV-1 serostatus who voluntarily attended an HIV counselling center.