Eight Italian hospital or University gynecology clinics participated in a prospective survey of patients with culture-confirmed symptomatic vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC) (October 1999 to March 2001). Of 1138 patients recruited in the study, 931 were evaluable. A recent history of VVC was documented in 43.5% patients (358/823) with a mean number of 2.9+/-2.7 episodes per patient (N=302). A total of 77 patients (10.0%) had a history of recurrent VVC (four and more episodes in a 12-month period). The most frequent associated factors were related to life style: synthetic fabric underwear, vaginal douching and bike, training bike and motorbike (about 1/3 each). Oral contraception was found in 20.8% patients, recent antibiotic use in 15.9% patients, current pregnancy concerned 10.3% patients while 3.4% patients were taking hormonal replacement therapy. Diabetes, corticosteroids or HIV were rarely encountered. Yeast was documented by direct microscopy in 78.3% patients (448/572). A positive culture was obtained in 98.3% patients (909/925). Candida albicans was the predominant species (77.1%), followed by Candida glabrata (14.6%) and Candida krusei (4.0%). With the exception of one center with a lower proportion of C. albicans, this latter represented between 75 and 85% of the isolates. Overall, this study confirmed the preponderant role played by C. albicans in either sporadic and recurrent VVC.