The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of retinal disease in a group of patients with AIDS in Malawi. Indirect ophthalmoscopy was performed on 99 patients with AIDS who were admitted consecutively to a medical ward at a central hospital. Necrotising retinitis was present in one eye of one patient examined. Non-infectious retinopathy was present in 13%. Retinitis is less common in AIDS patients from Africa compared with those from developed countries; it is believed that most patients die before acquiring it. Non-infectious retinopathy may also be less common.