From a study on the cost and quality of community home-based care (CHBC) for HIV/AIDS patients in Zimbabwe, programme and household costs were estimated. Interviews, using a structured questionnaire, were held with 60 patients and caregivers sampled from six types of established CHBC schemes. Detailed cost information was collected from four home care programmes, two urban and two rural. The cost of a home visit in the two urban programmes studied was estimated to be Z$129 (US$16) in one, and Z$183 (US$23) in the other. In one of the two rural schemes, the cost of a home visit was Z$313 (US$38), in the other this was Z$343 (US$42). A large proportion of these costs were not of direct benefit to the patients, as approximately 56-75% of the total cost per home visit was spent getting to the patient. The costs of a home visit in a rural home-based care programme corresponded to the costs of 2.7 inpatient days in a district hospital. The family cost of caring for a bedridden AIDS patient over a three-month period was estimated to be between Z$556-841. Caregivers spent as much as 2.5-3.5 hours a day on routine patient care. The programme costs are high, and schemes do not generally assess effectiveness, nor cost-effectiveness. The high cost of home visits leads to less frequent visits, leaving a larger part of both the burden and the cost of care to the families and the patients.