Abstract Current literature documents a phenomenon of fear that affects the willingness of health care professionals to care for persons with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). We attempted to identify differences between nurses who exhibit fearful attitudes toward AIDS and those who do not, based on knowledge and behavior. Taiwan, site of the study, is only beginning to identify the first of its citizens with AIDS. The subjects were a population of caregivers from a culture with little exposure, therefore, either through education or experience, to the disease and the issues it engenders. A cross-sectional, self-administered survey was conducted in 1990 of 1759 nurses in 12 institutions throughout Taiwan. Data on AIDS-related knowledge, fear, and behavior, as well as selected demographic data, were gathered. Analysis revealed significantly less fear of AIDS among nurses who reported three behavioral changes related to AIDS than among those who reported fewer changed behaviors (F= 4.43, df= 3; P < 0.004); those with higher levels of education (F= 3.54, df= 3; P < 0.014); and those who were single rather than married (t= 2.81; P < 0.005).