Abstract Background The disease burden of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) - acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is highest in sub-Saharan Africa but there are few studies on the associated neurocognitive disorders in this region. The objectives of this study were to determine whether Western neuropsychological (NP) methods are appropriate for use in Cameroon, and to evaluate cognitive function in a sample of HIV-infected adults. Methods We used a battery of 19 NP measures in a cross-sectional study with 44 HIV+ adults and 44 demographically matched HIV- controls, to explore the validity of these NP measures in Cameroon, and evaluate the effect of viral infection on seven cognitive ability domains. Results In this pilot study, the global mean z-score on the NP battery showed worse overall cognition in the HIV+ individuals. Significantly lower performance was seen in the HIV+ sample on tests of executive function, speed of information processing, working memory, and psychomotor speed. HIV+ participants with AIDS performed worse than those with less advanced HIV disease. Conclusions Similar to findings in Western cohorts, our results in Cameroon suggest that HIV infection, particularly in advanced stages, is associated with worse performance on standardized, Western neurocognitive tests. The tests used here appear to be promising for studying NeuroAIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.