Oral lesions associated with HIV infection, as classified by the EC-Clearinghouse on Oral Problems related to HIV infection and the WHO Collaborating Centre on Oral manifestations of the immunodeficiency virus, were studied in 600 consecutive HIV-infected patients in Cape Town, South Africa. One or more lesions were seen in 60.4% of cases. Combined candidal lesions were evident in 37.8%, hairy leukoplakia in 19.7% and combined gingival/periodontal lesions in 8.5% of patients seen. Lesions less commonly recorded include oral ulceration (2.9%) and Kaposi's sarcoma (1.5%). The clinical range of lesions seen is similar to those reported elsewhere, but socio-cultural differences allowed no reliable comparison. More than a quarter of our patients had oral soft tissue discomfort necessitating treatment; in 3.3% these were the presenting symptom. This indicates a potential major public health concern requiring education in recognition and appropriate referral and management.