The views of heads of academic departments in UK medical and dental schools on the extent of their specialty's involvement in teaching undergraduates about HIV/AIDS and undertaking research in this area was ascertained by postal questionnaire. Three hundred and nineteen responses were received from medical schools (61.7%) and 58 responses from dental schools (53.2%). The greatest number of responses in one specialty was received from the Departments of General Practice, Paediatrics and Children's Dentistry. The amount of teaching varied widely, was dispersed throughout the curriculum within a wide range of broader subject areas and tended to be carried out by senior staff using didactic lecture format. Dental courses were more often assessed than medical courses. The small number of patients available was seen as a major problem. Involvement in research was appreciable. However, knowledge of student awareness campaigns was not widespread. We conclude that more specific teaching on HIV/AIDS is needed, particularly discussion about attitudes towards patients and ethical issues. HIV/AIDS counsellors should have an increased involvement in undergraduate teaching and teaching methods should provide opportunities for interactive discussion. Extensive research is being conducted in the UK. However, further work is needed to identify the perceived needs of students and the extent to which these are being met.