In our search for therapeutic agents from natural sources with potential for the treatment of opportunistic infections in patients afflicted with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), we investigated antibacterial and antifungal activities of water extracts of Cassia alata (C. alata). The extracts are traditionally used in Ivory Coast, West Africa to treat bacterial infections caused by Escherichia coli (E. coli), and fungal infections caused by Candida albicans (C. albicans) and dermatophytes. Our working hypothesis was that the extract contains active ingredient(s) which can be isolated, identified and developed into useful antimicrobial/antifungal agents for the treatment of opportunistic infections in patients with AIDS. We used the broth dilution and agar dilution methods. Specifically, we focused on E. coli and C. albicans and the effectiveness of the extracts was evaluated relative to those of standard antibacterial agent chloramphenicol and antifungal agent amphotericin B. The minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) and minimum bactericidal concentration (MBC) for the water extract of C. alata against E. coli were 1.6 mg/ml and 60 mg/ml respectively; corresponding data for chloramphenicol were 2 ug/ml. Similarly, the MIC and minimum fungicidal concentration (MFC) for the extract against C. albicans were 0.39 mg/ml and 60 mg/ml in contrast to 0.58 ug/ml and 0.98 ug/ml for amphotericin B. From the dose-response curve plots, the extract had an IC50 of 31 mg/ml for E. coli and 28 mg/ml for C. albicans. The data suggest that C. alata extracts contain agent(s) which have therapeutic potential and might be useful if isolated and developed for the treatment of opportunistic infections of AIDS patients.