The "stone clinic effect" refers to the effect of encouraging a high intake of fluid and avoiding dietary excesses on stone formation and growth in patients with urolithiasis. To determine the extent of this effect we reviewed the clinical courses of 108 patients with idiopathic calcium urolithiasis and indeterminant metabolic activity. There was no evidence of stone growth or new stone formation (metabolic inactivity) after a mean followup of 62.6 months in 63 of the 108 patients (58.3 per cent), including 12 of 17 (70.6 per cent) with hypercalciuria and 7 of 15 (46.7 per cent) with hyperuricosuria. Comparison of initial and followup 24-hour urine volumes demonstrated a significant increase in patients who were metabolically inactive at followup (p less than 0.0005), while no increase was detected in patients who were metabolically active at followup. We recommend that specific drug therapy should not be given to patients with idiopathic calcium urolithiasis until the stone clinic effect has been evaluated.