Persons with multiple chronic conditions are a large and growing segment of the US population. However, little is known about how chronic conditions cluster, and the ramifications of having specific combinations of chronic conditions. Clinical guidelines and disease management programs focus on single conditions, and clinical research often excludes persons with multiple chronic conditions. Understanding how conditions in combination impact the burden of disease and the costs and quality of care received is critical to improving care for the 1 in 5 Americans with multiple chronic conditions. This Medline review of publications examining somatic chronic conditions co-occurring with 1 or more additional specific chronic illness between January 2000 and March 2007 summarizes the state of our understanding of the prevalence and health challenges of multiple chronic conditions and the implications for quality, care management, and costs.