Because of its cost-effective approach to impairment and disability, rehabilitation therapy is uniquely positioned to assume a significant role in today's healthcare environment. As the cost of health care has become a major concern, both the government and the private insurance industry have turned toward rehabilitation services as resources for preventing more costly use of the healthcare system in the future. Although funding in the area of injury research is scarce, funding for demonstrating the success of therapies for chronic illness such as HIV is more plentiful. In the case of HIV, rehabilitation nursing techniques and principles can be used as a model for reducing the substantial social costs of the disease. Specifically, rehabilitation nurses can assume a leadership role as service coordinators for HIV-positive patients. If rehabilitation nurses perform this role effectively and participate fully in research efforts aimed at measuring the success of rehabilitation therapy, their efforts have the potential of permanently raising the status of the rehabilitation nursing specialty.