The advent of effective combination antiretroviral therapy (ART) in 1996 resulted in fewer patients experiencing clinical events, so that some prognostic analyses of individual cohort studies of human immunodeficiency virus-infected individuals had low statistical power. Because of this, the Antiretroviral Therapy Cohort Collaboration (ART-CC) of HIV cohort studies in Europe and North America was established in 2000, with the aim of studying the prognosis for clinical events in acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and the mortality of adult patients treated for HIV-1 infection. In 2002, the ART-CC collected data on more than 12,000 patients in 13 cohorts who had begun combination ART between 1995 and 2001. Subsequent updates took place in 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2010. The ART-CC data base now includes data on more than 70 000 patients participating in 19 cohorts who began treatment before the end of 2009. Data are collected on patient demographics (e.g. sex, age, assumed transmission group, race/ethnicity, geographical origin), HIV biomarkers (e.g. CD4 cell count, plasma viral load of HIV-1), ART regimen, dates and types of AIDS events, and dates and causes of death. In recent years, additional data on co-infections such as hepatitis C; risk factors such as smoking, alcohol and drug use; non-HIV biomarkers such as haemoglobin and liver enzymes; and adherence to ART have been collected whenever available. The data remain the property of the contributing cohorts, whose representatives manage the ART-CC via the steering committee of the Collaboration. External collaboration is welcomed. Details of contacts are given on the ART-CC website (www.art-cohort-collaboration.org). © The Author 2013; all rights reserved.