Infective endocarditis, both in the native and prosthetic valve, presents a tremendous challenge to the cardiologist and cardiovascular surgeon, as well as the infection specialist. The timing of surgery is critical but it would appear that aggressive surgical intervention is indicated when there is persistent sepsis, continuing congestive heart failure, signs of nonfatal emboli, or in association with certain organisms such as staphylococcus, pseudomonas, or fungal organisms. Cardiac catheterization would not appear to add greatly to the diagnosis except to document the presence of coronary artery disease. The risk of surgery in patients with no annular abscess is low but the recurrence rate tends to be highly dependent on the organism. Similarly, patients who have annular abscesses tend to provide the greatest challenge for the surgeon and despite the use of newer prosthetic and biological prostheses and an overall more aggressive approach, this pathological entity, particularly in conjunction with prosthetic valve endocarditis, has a high mortality and a high recurrence rate.