OBJECTIVE: To provide recommendations for antiretroviral therapy based on information available in mid-1998. PARTICIPANTS: An international panel of physicians with expertise in antiretroviral research and care of patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, first convened by the International AIDS Society-USA in December 1995. EVIDENCE: The panel reviewed available clinical and basic science study results (including phase 3 controlled trials; clinical, virologic, and immunologic end point data; data presented at research conferences; and studies of HIV pathophysiology); opinions of panel members were also considered. Recommendations were limited to drugs available in mid-1998. CONSENSUS PROCESS: Panel members monitor new 58 reports and interim results. The full panel meets regularly to discuss how the new information may change treatment recommendations. Updated recommendations are developed through consensus of the entire panel at each stage of development. CONCLUSIONS: Accumulating data from clinical and pathogenesis studies continue to support early institution of potent antiretroviral therapy in patients with HIV infection. A variety of combination regimens show potency, expanding choices for initial regimens for individual patients. Plasma HIV RNA assays with increased sensitivity are important in monitoring therapeutic response; however, more data are needed to determine precisely the HIV RNA levels that define treatment failure. Long-term adverse drug effects are beginning to emerge, requiring ongoing attention. Some issues regarding optimal long-term approaches to antiretroviral management are unresolved. The increased complexity in HIV management requires ongoing monitoring of new data for optimal treatment of HIV infection.