The meta-analyses of published trials have shown topical therapy with 5-aminosalicylic acid (5-ASA) to be the treatment of choice in active distal ulcerative colitis. Oral aminosalicylates are effective for both distal and extensive ulcerative colitis, but in distal colitis the rates of improvement and remission are usually lower than those reported for rectal 5-ASA therapy. An alternative to 5-ASA therapy is represented by the new steroids; budesonide and beclometasone dipropionate (BDP) enemas, the most extensively studied, have been shown to be as effective as conventional steroids but with a significantly lower inhibition of plasma cortisol. Patients who do not respond to 5-ASA or new steroids should be treated with oral steroids. Azathioprine or 6-mercaptopurine may be effective in patients who do not respond or cannot be weaned off steroids. Treatment of pouchitis is largely empirical and few controlled studies have been carried-out. Antibiotics are the treatment of choice and most patients make a good response to metronidazole or ciprofloxacin. Chronic refractory pouchitis may benefit from a prolonged course of a combination of antibiotics. Highly concentrated probiotics (VSL#3) are effective both for the prevention of pouchitis onset and the prevention of relapses.