The etiological significance of intestinal Candida colonization continues to be controversial. This is a systematic review to determine the pathogenetic significance of intestinal Candida colonization. The search was essentially performed from 1990 to 12/7/2000 in Medline and the Cochrane-Library. The data source was restricted to articles in English and German. Selection criteria covered the topics "Epidemiology", "Infectious Diseases", "Candida-Syndrome" and "Therapy" and were essentially confined to in-vivo examination of immunocompetent adults. Two reviewers extracted independently data using predefined criteria. In total, 96 citations that proved suitable for use in the systematic review were found. Depending on the localization in the gastrointestinal tract, the recovery technique employed, and transport times, Candida colonization is frequently detected in healthy, immunocompetent adults (prevalence: 4-88%). None of the studies available so far furnish any evidence that nutritional factors, food additives, pollutants, anti-ovulants, other types of medication or diabetes mellitus might be predisposing factors for intestinal Candida colonization. However, therapeutic studies point to the possibility of Candida playing a role in antibiotic-associated diarrhea. On the other hand, antibiotics seem to favor bacterial dysbiosis, and this, like the direct side effects of drugs, offers a more plausible explanation for diarrhea or gastrointestinal symptoms. The role of intestinal colonization by Candida in Candida-associated vulvovaginitis and IgE-mediated disorders remains contradictory. Nevertheless, neither epidemiological nor therapeutic studies provide evidence for the existence of the so-called "Candida-syndrome" or "Candida-hypersensitivity-syndrome". At present, there are no proven treatment indications for antifungal "bowel decontamination".