Acute gout attacks and the long-term complications of gout are associated with the deposition of monosodium urate (MSU) monohydrate crystals in the joints and soft tissues, causing acute and chronic inflammation. The aim of long-term treatment is to reduce the serum urate (sUA) level to 6 mg/dl (< or =360 micromol/l), below the saturation point of MSU, so that new crystals cannot form and existing crystals are dissolved. Serial joint aspiration studies confirmed the disappearance of crystals with effective urate-lowering therapy. There is good evidence that achieving sUA <6 mg/dl (360 micromol/l) results in freedom from acute gout attacks, and shrinkage and eventual disappearance of tophi. Gout patients must be informed about their diagnosis and educated about gout management including the importance of compliance with long-term treatment. Patients starting urate-lowering therapy need to understand the importance of prophylactic therapy with colchicine or NSAIDs to reduce the risk of 'mobilization flares' in the first few months. In the long term, reduction in the sUA below the target level will result in gout being effectively cured.