The risk of HIV from transfusions in Canada in the period 1980-85 was estimated, using the information from a transfused paediatric cohort. Children who were transfused between January 1980 and November 1985 at a tertiary care paediatric hospital were contacted by letter. With this notification, HIV testing for recipients was recommended. HIV testing histories were obtained. The number tested for HIV was estimated from the questionnaire responses and from data matching with the HIV-testing laboratory. Cases of HIV infection were identified through multiple sources. In this cohort, 11,028 children were transfused a mean of 21 units. Of the 10,220 living recipients, the estimated proportion tested for HIV was 86% to 91%. Thirty-one cases of HIV infection were identified, representing 0.28% of the cohort but 0.34% of those expected to have been tested. The estimated HIV incidence per 1,000 units transfused ranged from 0.028 [95% CI 0.0007, 0.155] in 1980 to 0.445 [95% CI 0.2592, 0.712] in 1985. This suggests that the risk of HIV from transfusions in Canada continued to rise until the implementation of HIV testing of donors in November 1985.