Between 1995 and 1997, 1,675 HIV-positive men and women using complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) were enrolled into the Bastyr University AIDS Research Center's Alternative Medicine Care Outcomes in AIDS (AMCOA) study. Funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM) and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), the AMCOA study collected information on participant demographics, health status and use of conventional and CAM therapies. Participants from 46 states completed a baseline questionnaire, while additional clinical information (such as CD4 count and HIV-RNA viral load) was obtained from laboratory records. AMCOA participants reported using more than 1,600 different types of CAM therapies (1,210 CAM substances, 282 CAM therapeutic activities and 119 CAM provider types) for treating HIV/AIDS. Approximately two-thirds (63% n = 1,054) of the AMCOA cohort reported using antiretroviral drug therapy (ART) during the six-months previous to completing the baseline questionnaire, while 37% (n = 621) indicated they were not using ART. Of those not using ART, 104 subjects reported never having used any conventional medications for their HIV and 12 subjects used only non-prescription diarrhoea medications. The most frequently reported CAM substances were vitamin C (63%), multiple vitamin and mineral supplements (54%), vitamin E (53%) and garlic (53%). CAM provider types most commonly consulted by the AMCOA cohort were massage therapists (49%), acupuncturists (45%), nutritionists (37%) and psychotherapists (35%). CAM activities most commonly used were aerobic exercise (63%), prayer (58%), massage (53%) and meditation (46%). The choice of CAM therapies among the AMCOA cohort does not appear to be solely based on scientific evidence of efficacy of individual therapies. The majority of AMCOA subjects could be characterized as using integrated medicine, since an overwhelming proportion of the cohort consult with both conventional and CAM providers and use both conventional and CAM medications, yet few subjects reported that their conventional and CAM providers work as a team. These data and this cohort set the stage for conducting studies of health status changes associated with specific CAM therapies.