An AIDS education programme was developed and evaluated in a high school in a socio-economically disadvantaged, urban, African area in South Africa. The programme, which addressed the whole school community, aimed to raise awareness about AIDS using a variety of educational methods and operating through a number of channels. Students and teachers were actively involved in its design and implementation. Students' knowledge of and attitudes towards AIDS prevention were investigated before and after the AIDS programme, and compared to a neighbouring school, in which no AIDS education was conducted. The programme greatly improved student knowledge of HIV transmission and prevention. It increased levels of acceptance of people with AIDS and had a small impact on behavioural intentions. The process of involving the school community in the design of the AIDS education programme is discussed.