In 1998, the Department of Health (England) commissioned the first phase of national evidence-based guidelines for preventing healthcare associated infections. These focused on developing a set of standard principles for preventing infections in hospitals together with guidelines for preventing hospital-acquired infections (HAI) associated with the use of short-term indwelling ureteral catheters in acute care and with central venous catheters in acute care. These guidelines are systematically developed broad statements (principles) of good practice that all practitioners can use and which can be incorporated into local protocols. A nurse-led, multi-professional team composed of infection prevention practitioners, clinical microbiologists/retrovirologist, epidemiologists, and researchers developed the guidelines. A rigorous guideline development process was used to inform the systematic reviews, the clinical and critical appraisal of relevant evidence, and linking that evidence to evolving guidelines. Both general and specialist clinical practitioners were involved in all stages of developing these guidelines, as were representatives from relevant Royal Colleges, learned societies, other professional organisations and key stakeholders. The introduction to these guidelines describes a robust and validated guideline development model that can be used by others to develop future guidelines. This model is described in more detail in the associated technical reports that can be found on the project web site http://www.epic.tvu.ac.uk. Locating and appropriately using good quality evidence to inform guideline development in this field is challenging. Evidence from rigorously conducted experimental studies was frequently limited and consequently a range of other types of evidence were systematically retrieved and carefully appraised. The concluding discussion on implementation highlights potential issues for clinical governance and areas for future research and suggests issues that need to be addressed to allow practitioners to successfully incorporate these guidelines into routine clinical practice.