HIV surveillance in homosexual men is poor in most countries, as this risk group is difficult to sample. The aim of this study is to test the feasibility of reaching homosexual men for national HIV surveillance using gay community media. In 1989, a questionnaire on general gay issues, with a section on AIDS, was included in a widely sold gay magazine in the Netherlands. Among 17,700 sold copies, 1134 responses were obtained from males (6%). Of these, 669 men (59%) gave their address, of which in turn 84% responded to a questionnaire on risk behaviour in 1990. In 1991/1992, the 669 men were asked to participate in an HIV serosurvey, in which eventually 308 participated with a blood test (46%) and 147 without (total 68%). Participation in the serosurvey with blood test was associated with reporting multiple partners in 1989. Twenty participants were infected (6.5%). In logistic regression analysis, risk factors for infection were recent unprotected receptive anal intercourse with multiple partners (odds ratio (OR):10.7; 95% confidence interval (CI): (2.18–52.2); one partner 1.17 (0.31–4.48); none 1) and living in Amsterdam (OR: 3.92; 95% CI: (0.99–15.5); urbanised western Netherlands 2.15 (0.57–8.03); elsewhere 1), while a high educational level was protective (OR: 0.29 (0.08–0.96); middle 0.41 (0.11–1.54); low 1). Among those who participated in 1991/1992, risk behaviour increased between 1989 and 1991/1992 (reporting multiple casual partners rose from 55% to 64%; reporting inconsistent condom use with receptive anal sex from 58% to 71%). Using a predictive model which included self-reported serostatus in 1989, the HIV prevalence rate in 1991/1992 among all male responders to the 1989 questionnaire was estimated to be 5.3% (95% CI: 3.1–7.7%). In conclusion, unless initial response is improved, recruitment through a gay magazine may not allow reliable estimates of HIV prevalence in homosexual men. However, it can be useful at the national level for monitoring changes in prevalence and risk behaviour over time, geographical differences and risk factors for infection.