Meatal care with a poly-antibiotic ointment twice daily was evaluated in a prospective, randomized, controlled study of patients with temporary indwelling urethral catheters. Bacteriuria was acquired in 14 of 214 patients treated (6.5 per cent), compared to 16 of 214 patients not given treatment (7.5 per cent). The rate of bacteriuria was slightly lower in the treated than in the untreated group by each of 4 different statistical methods. In a subset of female patients at high risk a significant reduction in the rate of bacteriuria in treated patients was found by 1 method of analysis. These results contrast to previous studies in our hospital in which meatal care, using either nonantiseptic soap and water or an iodophor solution and ointment, was found to predispose to bacteriuria in high risk female patients. The benefit, if any, of meatal care with poly-antibiotic ointment appears to be small.