Background: HIV is now well established in the Caribbean, with prevalence in several countries being surpassed only by those of sub-Saharan Africa. Continuing inward migration from the Caribbean and a high incidence of some bacterial STIs among Britain's black Caribbean communities, suggests a considerable potential for HIV spread. Methods: Data from three national HIV/AIDS surveillance systems were reviewed, providing information on new HIV diagnoses, numbers accessing treatment and care services, and HIV prevalence. Results: Between 1997 and 2001, 528 black Caribbean adults were newly diagnosed with HIV; 62 new diagnoses in 1997, rising to 176 in 2001. Probable heterosexual acquisition accounted for 335 (63%) infections (161 (48%) males, 174 females), and sex between men 171 (32%). Infection was acquired both in the Caribbean and in the United Kingdom. Numbers of black Caribbeans accessing treatment and care services more than doubled between 1997 (294) and 2001 (691). In 2001, 528 (76%) black Caribbeans accessing services were London residents. Among the Caribbean born previously undiagnosed heterosexuals, HIV prevalence was 0.7%; among men who have sex with men (MSM) it was 10.4%. Of those born in the Caribbean, 73% of male heterosexuals, 50% of female heterosexuals, and 65% of MSM who were previously undiagnosed left the clinic unaware of their HIV infection. Conclusions: Numbers of black Caribbean adults newly diagnosed and accessing treatment and care services in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland increased between 1997 and 2001. Despite a high prevalence of diagnosed bacterial STIs, prevalence among Caribbean born heterosexuals remains low, but it is high among MSM. Surveillance data highlight the need for targeted HIV prevention among black Caribbeans.