To determine the spectrum of HIV-related illnesses presenting to a rural primary and secondary healthcare facility in Central Thailand, a cross-sectional study was conducted. Routinely collected data were extracted from outpatient medical notes for all adult HIV-infected new attenders of the Manorom Christian Hospital Infectious Disease Clinic. Data concerning inpatient admissions of HIV-infected individuals were collected from ward admission books and discharge summaries. Complete data were available for 229 outpatients, 70% of whom were men. The median age at presentation was 31 years for men and 30 years for women. The majority of the outpatients were married (69%) and infected heterosexually (91%). The commonest conditions requiring admission were cryptococcal meningitis (15%), bacterial pneumonia (12%), extrapulmonary tuberculosis (12%), Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (7%), cerebral toxoplasmosis (4%) and pulmonary tuberculosis (3%). Of the patients presenting for the first time, 32% had AIDS-defining illnesses. Presentations with some conditions, such as tuberculosis and septicemia, were fewer than expected. The common opportunistic infections among HIV-infected adults in this rural region are treatable and preventable. Most patients present with advanced disease and earlier diagnosis, through improved access to voluntary counseling and testing, would enable them to receive appropriate preventive therapies and antiretrovirals as they becomes available. The high prevalence of cryptococcal disease suggests that prophylactic anti-fungal therapy may be of value in this area. Septicemia and tuberculosis may be under-diagnosed, highlighting the need for improved diagnostic laboratory facilities or treatment based upon validated clinical algorithms. Community care and palliative care services for HIV-infected individuals will increasingly be required in this region.