We report nine cases of haemophagocytic syndrome (HS) in patients with human immunodeficiency virus infection, and review the 17 cases described to date in the literature. In 21 of 26 cases, HS developed during an advanced stage of immunodeficiency. Clinical and haematological signs are not specific in this setting, and the diagnosis relies on histological features, mainly bone marrow examination. An opportunistic infection was associated in three cases and a lymphoid malignancy in two of our nine cases. The role of the human immunodeficiency virus in the occurrence of the HS remains to be defined. The overall prognosis is poor as six of our nine patients died within 12 months of presentation.