On hundred twenty-six men who attended a hospital microbiology laboratory and 99 men who attended a private laboratory in Toulouse, France, for symptoms of urethritis were examined during 1988, for evidence of urethral pathogens. The following incidences were found: Neisseria gonorrhoeae: 24 (10.7%); Chlamydia trachomatis: 58 (25.8%); Ureaplasma urealyticum: 46 (20.4%); Gardnerella vaginalis: 21 (9.3%); Haemophilus parainfluenzae: 21 (9.3%); Streptococcus agalactiae: 15 (6.7%); Candida albicans: 10 (4.4%); and Trichomonas vaginalis: 4 (1.8%). The prevalence of these microorganisms was similar in the two groups of patients. No pathogen was isolated from 71 patients (31.6%). Mixed infections with at least two pathogens were found in 49 men (21.8%). Another goal of this study was to determine the relative prevalence of urethral pathogens in relation to clinical findings. N. gonorrhoeae was isolated significantly more often in patients who had a urethral discharge (P less than .05) that contained five or more polymorphonuclear cells per high-power field (PMN/HPF) (P less than .001). G. vaginalis was isolated significantly more often in patients who did not have an urethral discharge (P less than .05) and in men with less than five PMN/HPF (P less than .05). Isolation of C. albicans was significantly associated with pruritus (P less than .05) and balanitis (P less than .001). Like the clinical features, the gram-stained urethral smear was of limited value in diagnosis and therapeutic decision-making regarding non-gonococcal urethritis. In contrast, this study underlines the importance of full identification of urethral isolates in the management of urethritis in men.