A prospective study of persistent arthralgia was carried out on 331 consecutive female patients admitted to the Department of Internal Medicine of the Centre Hospitalier de Kigali in Kigali. Rwanda. The aim of this study was to determine its association with HIV-I infection and to describe its clinical characteristics, Ten additional HIV-l-seropositive patients with this condition attending the outpatient clinic were also included in the clinical study. Persistent arthralgia was significantly more common in HIV-1 -seropositive hospitalized patients (14 of 209.6.7%) than in HIV-1-seronegative hospitalized patients (one of 122. 0.8%p - 0.02) and had a specificity and a positive predictive value for HIV-I infection of 99.1% and 43.3';, respectively. HIV-1-related persistent arthralgia, studied in 24 patients in early as well as late stages of HIV-I infection, commonly affected several and mainly large joints. was mostly distributed symmetrically. and was usually relieved with nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs. Recurrencies were noted in eight patients. In areas highly endemic for HIV-1, persistent arthralgia should be considered a probable manifestation of HIV-1 infection, and although it is uncommon, it can be regarded as a predictor of HIV-I infection.