An ECMM epidemiological prospective survey of candidaemia was performed in one Italian region (Lombardy; population: 8 924 870) by the National Society of Medical Mycology (FIMUA) from September 1997 to December 1999. In total, 569 episodes were reported with an overall rate of 0.38/1000 admissions, 4.4/100000 patient days. Predisposing factors included presence of an intravascular catheter (89%), antibiotic treatment (88%), surgery (56%), intensive care (45%), solid tumour (28%), steroid treatment (15%), haematological malignancy (7%), HIV infection (6%), fetal immaturity (4%). Mucous membrane colonization preceded candidaemia in 83% of patients. Candida albicans was identified in 58% of cases, followed by Candida parapsilosis (15%), Candida glabrata (13%), Candida tropicalis (6%). Septic shock occurred in 95 patients. Crude mortality was 35%, the highest in C. tropicalis fungaemia (44%), the elderly (64%) and solid tumour cancer patients (43%). Intravascular catheter removal was associated with higher survival rate (71 vs. 47%). This survey underscores the importance of candidaemia in hospital settings.