The studies reviewed in this paper suggest that each of the major health education models (taxonomy of educational objectives, health belief model, theory of reasoned action and PRECEDE model) makes a contribution to explaining the effectiveness of AIDS education. The major finding is that information on its own, without modification of attitudes or perception of AIDS as a personal concern that one can do something about, will have no effect on knowledge or behavior. Knowledge about AIDS is generally unrelated to behavior without the modification of attitudes and beliefs. The potential importance of perceived norms and social supports for behavior change are also apparent in these data and are acknowledged as important predisposing and reinforcing factors. The importance of such factors (including drug and alcohol use) as situational determinants of behavior, despite the level of motivation and knowledge, is apparent. The critical importance of providing motivation (through personalization of information) to activate information and behavior change is also apparent. These aspects of the health education models would appear to be of considerable importance in designing health education campaigns at this stage of the AIDS epidemic.