Aim: To describe the radiological appearances of immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS) in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients with mycobacterial infections starting highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART). Materials and methods: Five consecutive HIV infected patients with IRIS due to mycobacterial infection were studied. Intercurrent infection and poor drug compliance were excluded as causes of presentation. The chest radiological appearances at the time of starting HAART and at the time of diagnosis of IRIS were compared. Results: In these five patients there was clinical and radiological deterioration, occurring between 10 days and 7 months after starting HAART, leading to unmasking of previously undiagnosed mycobacterial infection or to worsening of mycobacterial disease. All five patients had HAART-induced increases in CD4+ T lymphocyte counts and reductions in peripheral blood HIV "viral load". Chest radiographic abnormalities due to IRIS included marked mediastinal lymphadenopathy in three patients - severe enough to produce tracheal, compression in two patients (one of whom had stridor) - and was associated with new pulmonary infiltrates in two patients. The other two patients had new infiltrates, which in one patient was associated with a pleural effusion. Conclusion: These cases illustrate the diverse chest radiographic appearances of IRIS occurring after HAART in patients with mycobacterial and HIV co-infection. Marked mediastinal lymphadenopathy occurred in three of these five patients (with associated tracheal narrowing in two patients); four patients developed pulmonary infiltrates and one had an effusion. The cases further highlight that the onset of IRIS may be delayed for several months after HAART is started. © 2004 The Royal College of Radiologists. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.