BACKGROUND: Complicated urinary tract infection occurs in individuals with functional or structural abnormalities of the genitourinary tract.OBJECTIVE: To review current knowledge relevant to complicated urinary tract infection, and to provide evidence-based recommendations for management.METHODS: The literature was reviewed through a PubMed search, and additional articles were identified by journal reference review. A draft guideline was prepared and critically reviewed by members of the Association of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Disease Canada Guidelines Committee, with modifications incorporated following the review.RESULTS: Many urological abnormalities may be associated with complicated urinary infection. There is a wide spectrum of potential infecting organisms, and isolated bacteria tend to be more resistant to antimicrobial therapy. Morbidity and infection outcomes in subjects with complicated urinary infection are principally determined by the underlying abnormality rather than the infection. Principles of management include uniform collection of a urine specimen for culture before antimicrobial therapy, characterization of the underlying genitourinary abnormality, and nontreatment of asymptomatic bacteriuria except before an invasive genitourinary procedure. The antimicrobial regimen is determined by clinical presentation, patient tolerance, renal function and known or anticipated infecting organisms. If the underlying abnormality contributing to the urinary infection cannot be corrected, then early post-treatment recurrence of infection is anticipated.CONCLUSIONS: The management of complicated urinary infection is individualized depending on patient variables and the infecting organism. Further clinical investigations are necessary to assist in determining optimal antimicrobial regimens.