A retrospective analysis of routine child health surveillance information was performed on health visitor records of 459 children, to examine the independent effects of maternal HIV infection and drug use during pregnancy on morbidity in the first 3 years of life. No significant differences were observed in the developmental progress of children born to HIV infected or drug using women when compared to community controls. The pattern of medical consultations in the first 18 months of life was significantly different, maternal drug use exerting a negative influence on outpatient visits (odds ratio 0.6, 95% confidence interval 0.4 to 1.0). At 6 weeks, the majority of children lived with their birth parent(s), and no differences were observed between the groups. By 10 months of age, only 81% of children born to HIV infected drug using women lived with their parent(s). While maternal drug use and HIV did not have adverse effects on child health and development, these findings highlight the social implications for children affected by the heterosexual spread of HIV.