Rheumatic manifestations are common and varied in infective endocarditis. We performed a retrospective case analysis on 87 patients with 93 episodes of infective endocarditis admitted to Flinders Medical Centre over an 11 year period (1980-1990). Disabling musculoskeletal symptoms and signs were documented in 22 (25%) of the patients. Thirteen patients developed severe or moderately severe low back pain during their illness, two with radiological evidence of a septic discitis or vertebral osteomyelitis. Two patients developed polyarthralgia/arthritis, four had septic arthritis (all with acute Staphylococcus aureus endocarditis), three developed severe loin pain, two acute gout, two had severe buttock pain and sacroiliac joint tenderness and two each developed disabling jaw/facial pain, neck/scapular pain and flank pain respectively. Five patients presented initially to the orthopaedic or rheumatological unit for management of their musculoskeletal symptoms. Four of seven patients with Streptococcus bovis endocarditis demonstrated prominent low back pain supporting a previously noted association between this organism and back symptoms. Furthermore, in one patient who had three separate episodes of endocarditis involving three different organisms, florid back symptoms were only seen in the infective episode involving Streptococcus bovis.