Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are among the most common bacterial infections acquired by humans, particularly in catheterized patients. A major problem with catheterization is the formation of bacterial biofilms on catheter material and the risk of developing persistent UTIs that are difficult to monitor and eradicate. To better understand the course of UTIs and allow more accurate studies of in vivo antibiotic efficacy, we developed a catheter-based biofilm infection model with mice, using bioluminescently engineered bacteria. Two important urinary tract pathogens, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Proteus mirabilis, were made bioluminescent by stable insertion of a complete lux operon. Segments of catheter material (precolonized or postimplant infected) with either pathogen were placed transurethrally in the lumen of the bladder by using a metal stylet without surgical manipulation. The bioluminescent strains were sufficiently bright to be readily monitored from the outside of infected animals, using a low-light optical imaging system, including the ability to trace the ascending pattern of light-emitting bacteria through ureters to the kidneys. Placement of the catheter in the bladder not only resulted in the development of strong cystitis that persisted significantly longer than in mice challenged with bacterial suspensions alone but also required prolonged antibiotic treatment to reduce the level of infection. Treatment of infected mice for 4 days with ciprofloxacin at 30 mg/kg of body weight twice a day cured cystitis and renal infection in noncatheterized mice. Similarly, ciprofloxacin reduced the bacterial burden to undetectable levels in catheterized mice but did not inhibit rebound of the infection upon cessation of antibiotic therapy. This methodology easily allows spatial information to be monitored sequentially throughout the entire disease process, including ascending UTI, treatment efficacy, and relapse, all without exogenous sampling, which is not possible with conventional methods.