This article highlights health issues related to prostitution, with special reference to the situation in Europe. Strategies aimed at improving the health care of commercial sex workers, including programs for screening for sexually transmitted infections, are discussed. Problems related to failure to follow-up, particularly of mobile (migratory, international) commercial sex workers, are considered. Other topics covered include counselling on sexual risk reduction, including medical hotline telephone services and clinical outreach work. Counselling commercial sex workers on contraception, desired termination of pregnancy and hazards of illicit drug use are also highlighted. The public-health consequences of delivering poor health care to commercial sex workers are generally severely underestimated, particularly in societies where prostitution is illegal.