In order to determine the effect of catheter materials on formation of encrustations in long-term indwelling urinary catheters in the elderly we performed a crossover study utilizing commercially available silicone, silicone-coated, teflon-coated and latex catheters that were left in place for 14 days. The study was conducted with #18 french catheters fitted with a 30 ml. balloon since smaller size catheters frequently fell out spontaneously. The distinction between patients who were "blockers" and "nonblockers" was found to be clinically useful since "nonblockers", who constituted about half the population, did well regardless of type of catheter material used. Formation of encrustations and blockage was significantly less in "blockers" with silicone than with teflon-coated or latex catheters. The more rapid flow-time through silicone catheters appears to be related to a larger bore. Although this study supports the use of silicone catheters for "blockers" on long-term drainage the results should not be interpreted to imply that they are preferable to other types of catheters for short-term use or to changing less expensive catheters more frequently when needed.