In a prospective study, 141 cats with hematuria, dysuria, urethral obstruction, or combinations of these signs were evaluated by contemporary diagnostic methods and compared with 26 clinically normal cats (controls). Specific diagnosis was established in 45% (64/141) of cats affected with lower urinary tract disease (LUTD). Crystalline matrix plug-induced urethral obstruction was diagnosed in 21% (30/141) of affected cats, uroliths were identified in 21% (30/141) of affected cats, uroliths with concomitant bacterial urinary tract infection (UTI) were identified in less than 2% (2/141) of affected cats, and bacterial UTI alone was identified in less than 2% (2/141) of cats with LUTD. Viruses, mycoplasmas, and ureaplasmas were not isolated from urine samples collected from affected or control cats. Bovine herpesvirus 4 (BHV-4)-neutralizing antibodies were not detected in any serum sample obtained from cats with LUTD or from control cats. In contrast, BHV-4 antibodies were detected by an indirect immunofluorescent antibody (IFA) test in sera obtained from 31% (44/141) of cats with LUTD and 23% (6/26) of control cats. The prevalence of positive BHV-4 IFA test results in affected cats was not significantly different from that observed in control cats. Significant association was not apparent between positive BHV-4 IFA test results and clinical diagnosis, abnormal laboratory findings, or cat age. However, the number of male cats with BHV-4 IFA titer was significantly (P less than 0.02, chi 2 test) greater than that of female cats. Detection of BHV-4 antibodies in approximately 30% of affected and control cats indicates prior virus exposure. Further investigations are warranted to clarify the specific role of BHV-4 in cats with naturally acquired LUTD.