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Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are symptomatic infections of the urinary tract, mainly caused by the bacterium Escherichia coli. One in two women suffers from a UTI at least once in her life. The young and sexually active are particulaly affected, but it is also seen in elderly, postmenopausal women. The likelihood of recurrence is high. Diagnosis is made with regard to typical complaints and the presence of leucocytes and nitrites in the urine. A culture is unnecessary in most cases. Uncomplicated UTI should be distinguished from complicated UTI, which has a risk of severe illness. The treatment of choice--short-term therapy with trimethoprim or nitrofurantoin--is successful in over 80% of the cases. Co-trimoxazol fluoroquinolones or cephalsporins are not considered first-choice drugs. There are indications that general practitioners' (GPs') management of UTI is not always optimal, specifically concerning diagnostic tests, the application of second-choice antibiotics, and the length of prescribed treatment courses. Many points relevant to GPs requirefurther research, such as epidemiology and resistance of urinary pathogens in the community and natural history of UTI, as well as optimal management in elderly or complicated patients and men.