2507 homosexual men who were seronegative for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) at enrollment were followed for six months to elucidate risk factors for seroconversion to HIV. 95 (3.8%) seroconverted. Of men who did not engage in receptive anal intercourse within six months before baseline and in the six-month follow-up period, only 0.5% (3/646) seroconverted to HIV. By contrast, of men who engaged in receptive anal intercourse with two or more partners during each of these successive six-month intervals, 10.6% (58/548) seroconverted. No HIV seroconversions occurred in 220 homosexual men who did not practise receptive or insertive anal intercourse within twelve months before the follow-up visit. On multivariate analysis receptive anal intercourse was the only significant risk factor for seroconversion to HIV, the risk ratio increasing from 3-fold for one partner to 18-fold for five or more partners. Furthermore, data for the two successive six-month periods show that men who reduced or stopped the practice of receptive anal intercourse significantly lowered their risk of seroconversion to 3.2% and 1.8%, respectively. Receptive anal intercourse accounted for nearly all new HIV infections among the homosexual men enrolled in this study, and the hazards of this practice need to be emphasised in community educational projects.