BACKGROUND: Though AIDS is one of the most serious health problem in worldwide, there have been developed no effective control measure yet. Therefore, individual-based prevention is the only way to control AIDS. Because overseas seamen would be considered as a high risk group for HIV infection due to their life style, this study was conducted in order to provide some informations for preparing the control program fit for them. METHODS: The knowledges and attitudes on HIV infection among 201 Korean male overseas seamen - who were belonged to the one shipping company - were surveyed through questionnaire The survey was conducted for 2 months from October 1, 1997 and the results were analyzed by PC SAS (ver 6.12). RESULTS: The mean age of the subjects was 36.4 years old, and the average tenure was 10.6years. 69.2% of them were married. The information about AIDS was acquired mostly from television(40.3%) and newspapers or magazines(32.8%). 30.8% of them have not received any AIDS-related education, and 66.7% were not satisfied with the fidelity of education. About the knowledges on HIV infection, most of them knew relatively well about cause(84.1%), diagnosis(97.0%), epidemiology (94.5%) etc, however, they did not know about clinical spectrum and treatability well. With regard to the transmission of AIDS, most of them knew relatively well about needle(93.0%), longitudinal infection(92.5%), transfusion(91.0%), homosexuality(88.0%), trans plantation(81.6%), sexual contact (80.1%). However, they showed different responses about kiss, cough sneezing, mosquitos, and razor. With regard to the attitudes on HIV infection, they weighted 'isolation', for example, 'patients isolation'(65.7%), 'school-life isolation'(54.2%), 'divorce with his wife'(41.8%). There showed rather accurate knowledges and resonable attitudes in the educated group, and the response of 'will divorce with his wife' was higher in older group. With regard to the characteristics on sexual life, the possibility of future sexual contact was higher in the uneducated group, and intention to use of preventative condoms was higher in the seamanship group than the sailer group, but no difference by marrital status. CONCLUSIONS: It should be emphasized to get the accurate knowledge about HIV infection through health education, especially focused on the practical levels, eg, preventative use of condoms during sexual contacts. This study has also another meanings to reveal the positive effect and to recall the motive for individual-based prevention.