More than one million persons in the United States are infected with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV), and as of March 1993, approximately 12% of the 250,000 cases of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were women. Worldwide, it is estimated that more than 10 million persons are infected with HIV, and by the year 2000, most of the more than 40 million HIV-infected persons will be women and children. These data, along with the impact on individual women, underscore the importance of directed education and prevention programs. Early education and recognition of HIV infection in pregnant women will increase the opportunity for informed reproductive choices and preventive measures that may decrease vertical transmission. This article reviews the epidemiology of perinatal transmission and discusses strategies to interrupt transmission of HIV during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Information on the risk of HIV acquisition among healthcare workers and their ability to transmit HIV to patients also is reviewed.