To better understand the etiology of recurrent urinary tract infection (UTI), the authors followed a cohort of 285 female college students with first UTI for 6 months or until second UTI. A first UTI due to Escherichia coli was followed by a second UTI three times more often than was a non-E. coli first UTI (24 vs. 8%; p = 0.02). In a logistic regression analysis limited to the 224 women from the University of Michigan Health Service and the University of Texas at Austin Health Service from September 1992 to December 1994, with a first UTI due to E. coli, vaginal intercourse increased the risk of a second UTI with both a different (odds ratio (OR) = 1.60, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.19, 2.15) and the same (OR = 1.37, 95% CI: 0.91, 2.07) uropathogen, as did using a diaphragm, cervical cap, and/or spermicide (same uropathogen: OR = 1.53, 95% CI: 0.95, 2.47; different uropathogen: OR = 1.77, 95% CI: 1.22, 2.58). Condom use decreased the risk of a second UTI caused by a different uropathogen (OR = 0.68, 95% CI: 0.48, 0.99) but had no effect on a second UTI caused by the same E. coli (OR = 0.99; 95% CI: 0.66, 1.50). Type or duration of treatment was not associated with a second UTI. Although the risk of second UTI is strongly influenced by sexual behavior, women with a first UTI caused by E. coli are more likely than are those with a non-E. coli first UTI to have a second UTI within 6 months.