Little information is available regarding the risk of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection for patients transfused before routine anti-HIV-1 screening of blood donors was instituted in March 1985. A model was developed for estimating both the proportion and the number of transfusion recipients in the San Francisco Bay area who were infected by HIV-1 during each of the 7 years preceding routine donor screening for anti-HIV-1. The model is based on analysis of 1) donation histories of HIV-1-infected donors identified at the regional blood center; 2) HIV-1 seroprevalence estimates for homosexual and bisexual men in San Francisco; and 3) HIV-1 infection and survival rates for recipients traced by the Transfusion Safety Study and Irwin Memorial Blood Centers’ Look Back Program. The incidence of transfusion- associated HIV-1 infection is estimated to have risen rapidly from the first occurrence in 1978 to a peak in late 1982 of approximately 1.1 percent per transfused unit. The decrease after 1982 coincided with the implementation of high-risk donor deferral measures. It is estimated that, overall, approximately 2135 transfusion recipients were infected with HIV-1 in the San Francisco region alone. This number suggests a higher prevalence of transfusion-associated HIV-1 infection than has been generally recognized and indicates the need for continued tracing of potentially exposed recipients. The data also strongly support the effectiveness of early donor education and self-exclusion measures and emphasize the importance of continued research and development in this area.