Locally conducted research has played a critical role in guiding the response to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic in Jamaica. Active HIV/AIDS case-based surveillance and serosurveys helped to define the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) epidemic in Jamaica and identify those who were most at risk. Studies among sexually transmitted infection (STI) clinic attendees identified genital ulcers and syphilis as risk factors for HIV infection and were suggestive of other risk factors. Given the synergistic role of HIV and other STI, an integrated approach was taken to HIV/STI control and the STI services were strengthened based on research. Studies were conducted among sexworkers (SW), men who have sex with men, persons who go to sites to meet new sex partners, prisoners and others most at risk in order to understand risk factors and better guide the HIV/STI response. National population based surveys were conducted periodically to monitor knowledge, attitudes, beliefs as well as sexual behaviour and condom use. The research contributed greatly to Jamaica’s comprehensive HIV/STI control programme that has been effective in slowing the HIV epidemic, reducing HIV prevalence among SW and STI clinic attendees, preventing mother-to-child transmission, reducing syphilis rates and mitigating the impact of HIV on the population.