Gout is a common disease with a worldwide distribution. The major risk factor for the development of gout is sustained asymptomatic hyperuricaemia. Although pharmacological therapy of asymptomatic hyperuricaemia is not recommended, primary prevention of gout can be achieved through lifestyle changes including weight loss, restricting protein and calorie intake, limiting alcohol consumption, avoiding the use of diuretics in the treatment of hypertension, and avoiding occupational exposure to lead. The arthritis of gout can be readily managed with the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs); systemic steroids or corticotrophin (adrenocorticotrophic hormone; ACTH) should be used in patients with contraindications to NSAIDs, or who are intolerant of them. Because of potential toxicity, colchicine should not be used to treat acute gout, but should be used in low dosage (0.6 to 1.2 mg/day) for prophylaxis of recurrent attacks of gout. The other cornerstone of prevention of recurrent gouty attacks is control of hyperuricaemia, which can be effectively accomplished with antihyperuricaemic therapy. The choice of agents, either uricosuric drugs or xanthine oxidase inhibitors, is based on the level of urinary uric acid excretion, renal function, age of patient, history of renal calculi and presence of tophi. Treatment and prevention of gout are exceedingly effective and patients can usually be managed by their primary care physician.