Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common infectious diseases that can be associated with substantial morbidity and significant expenditures. This review highlights the current concepts and recent advances in our understanding and management of this condition. Specific topics include pathogenesis, host factors, antimicrobial resistance, recurrent UTIs in women, diagnosis, treatment of uncomplicated and complicated UTIs, prophylaxis, catheter associated bacteriuria, pregnancy, diabetes, UTIs in men, prostatitis, and the chronic pelvic pain syndrome. UTIs can be viewed as an interaction between specific bacterial virulence factors and the patient. A new model explaining the pathogenesis of recurrent UTIs has been presented. There is a need to reconsider traditional treatment recommendations in the face of local resistance patterns, as well as the need to make better use of drugs that are currently available. Prospects for prevention of recurrent UTI include natural compounds, bacterial interference and immunization. With regard to UTI risk in women, patients can be classified based on age, and functional and hormonal status. Appropriate treatment approaches must be based on this classification. In contrast to uncomplicated UTIs, management of most complicated infections depends on clinical experience and resources at individual institutions rather than on evidence based guidelines. Asymptomatic bacteriuria generally should not be treated except in high-risk catheterized patients and in pregnancy. UTIs in men generally require formal urologic evaluation. Our understanding of the etiologies, diagnostic strategies, and treatment options for prostatitis and the chronic pelvic pain syndrome in men continues to evolve.