Alveolar lymphocytosis, in the face of blood lymphopenia, is a common finding among patients with AIDS. We studied by bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL), the alveolar cell profile of 43 human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) seropositive patients divided into three groups involving the advanced stages of the disease: group A (n = 9; CDC III), ambulatory individuals without systemic or respiratory symptoms; group B (n = 15; CDC IV) patients admitted for evaluation of fever of unknown origin (FUO) without pulmonary involvement; group C (n = 19; CDC IV), patients admitted for evaluation of an acute pulmonary condition. Sex, age and risk factor were comparable among the groups. Alveolar lymphocytosis was found in no group A patients, in 2 out of 15 group B patients (both with P. carinii lung infection) and in all group C patients, where pulmonary involvement was due to opportunistic infection or to nonspecific interstitial pneumonitis. Our findings suggest that in patients with advanced HIV infection alveolar lymphocytosis may be an expression of a concomitant process within the lungs either clinically manifest or inapparent, or possibly related to HIV primary lung involvement.