A 37-year-old man with bilateral optic neuropathy who recovered on steroid treatment is described. He was subsequently found to be human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1) positive prior to the onset of his visual symptoms, and no other cause of his optic neuropathy could be found. There is some evidence that HIV itself may be a cause of symptomatic optic neuropathy. A spontaneously relapsing and remitting multiple sclerosis-like syndrome has previously been described in HIV-positive patients, and this may present with optic neuritis. A chronic optic neuritis in HIV-positive patients that is not usually symptomatically important has also been described. We review the literature related to these topics and our patient.