OBJECTIVE: TO assess the maintenance of safe sexual practice. (We use the term 'safe' sex throughout the paper, since 'safe' is the term adopted by the Australian National Committee on AIDS). DESIGN: Maintenance was assessed by comparing sexual behaviour with both regular and casual partners reported in a 1986/1987 survey (time 1) with behaviour reported in a second survey in 1991 (time 2). METHOD: The 145 homosexually active participants were a non-clinical sample recruited in 1986/1987 by advertisement and followed-up in 1991. A structured questionnaire was administered at both times. Items included questions about the nature of the men's sexual relationships and their sexual practices. RESULTS: Our findings indicate that the majority of men had sustained safe sex practices. HIV prevention strategies adopted included condom use, avoidance of anal intercourse and negotiated safety (i.e., the negotiated practice of unprotected anal intercourse within regular partnerships of concordant serostatus). CONCLUSIONS: Negotiated safety is not the same as relapse.