The characteristics of candidemia before and after the introduction of fluconazole were compared at our institution. In the pre-fluconazole era (1986-89), the incidence of candidemia rose from 0.02% to 13% over the course of 4 y. Candida albicans accounted for 44/66 isolates (67%) and C. glabrata and C. parapsilosis were the predominant non-albicans species (9% each). In one-third of cases antifungal therapy was not given and the overall mortality rate was 55%. During the fluconazole era (1994-97), the incidence of candidemia remained constant between 1994 and 1996 at 0.09-0.11% and dropped to 0.06% in 1997. Bloodstream infection associated with neutropenia increased significantly but only accounted for 13% of cases; antifungal prophylaxis was not employed. The isolation of C. albicans decreased (n = 49; 50%) whereas isolation of both C. parapsilosis (n = 23; 24%) and C. tropicalis (n = 16; 16%) increased. The vast majority of patients received antifungal therapy and the overall mortality rate was 39%. These findings show that the incidence of candidemia rose steadily prior to the fluconazole era and then stabilized in spite of a shift towards non-albicans species. When candidemia was encountered in the fluconazole era, it was rare not to give antifungal treatment.