C-reactive protein (CRP) is a sensitive marker of inflammation and tissue damage. We aimed to describe CRP responses in HIV-infected patients presenting with Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP), bacterial pneumonia (BP) and pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) and, in patients with PCP, to identify if elevated CRP has prognostic significance. Data obtained by case-note review of consecutive HIV-infected adults with acute respiratory episodes included admission CRP (elevated >5 mg/L), haemoglobin, white blood count, CD4 count and partial pressure of oxygen in the blood (PaO2), presence of pulmonary copathology/intercurrent infection and outcome (survival). Median (range) CRP in patients with BP = 120 mg/L (<5-620 mg/L), TB = 44 mg/L (<5-256.3 mg/L) and PCP = 35 mg/L (<5-254 mg/L). CRP was elevated in 93/103 (90.3%) patients with PCP; six patients died; and all had an elevated CRP. PaO2 and CRP values were associated as follows: average CRP levels declined by 10% (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.20%) per kPa increase in PaO2 = 0.002. Factors associated with death were higher CRP, odds ratio (OR) (95% CI) = 5.30 (1.61 to 17.51) per 100 mg/L increase, P = 0.006 and haemoglobin, OR (95% CI) = 0.52 (0.29 to 0.93) per g/dL, P = 0.033. CRP is elevated in the majority of HIV-infected patients with PCP, BP and TB. Admission CRP measurement lacks specificity, but in PCP elevations of CRP are associated with disease severity (PaO2) and poor outcome and might be used prognostically, together with other mortality risk factors; further prospective evaluation is needed.