Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) is a life-threatening disease caused by Rickettsia rickettsii, an obligately intracellular bacterium that is spread to human beings by ticks. More than a century after its first clinical description, this disease is still among the most virulent human infections identified, being potentially fatal even in previously healthy young people. The diagnosis of RMSF is based on the patient's history and a physical examination, and often presents a dilemma for clinicians because of the non-specific presentation of the disease in its early course. Early empirical treatment is essential to prevent severe complications or a fatal outcome, and treatment should be initiated even in unconfirmed cases. Because there is no vaccine available against RMSF, avoidance of tick-infested areas is still the best way to prevent the infection.