The life span of individuals that are sero-positive for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has greatly improved; however, complications involving the central nervous system (CNS) remain a concern. While HIV does not directly infect neurons, the proteins produced by the virus, including HIV transactivator of transcription (Tat), are released from infected glia; these proteins can be neurotoxic. This neurotoxicity is thought to mediate the pathology underlying HIVassociated neurological impairments. Cocaine abuse is common among HIV infected individuals, and this abuse augments HIV-associated neurological deficits. The brain regions and pathophysiological mechanisms that are dysregulated by both chronic cocaine and Tat are the focus of the current review.