Chronic infections are an increasing problem due to the aging population and the increase in antibiotic resistant organisms. Therefore, understanding the host-pathogen interactions that result in chronic infection is of great importance. Here, we investigate the molecular basis of chronic bacterial cystitis. We establish that introduction of uropathogenic E. coli (UPEC) into the bladders of C3H mice results in two distinct disease outcomes: resolution of acute infection or development of chronic cystitis lasting months. The incidence of chronic cystitis is both host strain and infectious dose-dependent. Further, development of chronic cystitis is preceded by biomarkers of local and systemic acute inflammation at 24 hours post-infection, including severe pyuria and bladder inflammation with mucosal injury, and a distinct serum cytokine signature consisting of elevated IL-5, IL-6, G-CSF, and the IL-8 analog KC. Mice deficient in TLR4 signaling or lymphocytes lack these innate responses and are resistant, to varying degrees, to developing chronic cystitis. Treatment of C3H mice with the glucocorticoid anti-inflammatory drug dexamethasone prior to UPEC infection also suppresses the development of chronic cystitis. Finally, individuals with a history of chronic cystitis, lasting at least 14 days, are significantly more susceptible to redeveloping severe, chronic cystitis upon bacterial challenge. Thus, we have discovered that the development of chronic cystitis in C3H mice by UPEC is facilitated by severe acute inflammatory responses early in infection, which subsequently are predisposing to recurrent cystitis, an insidious problem in women. Overall, these results have significant implications for our understanding of how early host-pathogen interactions at the mucosal surface determines the fate of disease.