Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common of the vaginitides affecting women of reproductive age. It appears to be due to an alteration in the vaginal ecology by which Lactobacillus spp., the predominant organisms in the healthy vagina, are replaced by a mixed flora including Prevotella bivia, Prevotella disiens, Porphyromonas spp., Mobiluncus spp., and Peptostreptococcus spp. All of these organisms except Mobiluncus spp. are also members of the endogenous vaginal flora. While evidence from treatment trials does not support the notion that BV is sexually transmitted, recent studies have shown an increased risk associated with multiple sexual partners. It has also been suggested that the pathogenesis of BV may be similar to that of urinary tract infections, with the rectum serving as a reservoir for some BV-associated flora. The organisms associated with BV have also been recognized as agents of female upper genital tract infection, including pelvic inflammatory disease, and the syndrome BV has been associated with adverse outcome of pregnancy, including premature rupture of membranes, chorioamnionitis, and fetal loss; postpartum endometritis; cuff cellulitis; and urinary tract infections. The mechanisms by which the BV-associated flora causes the signs of BV are not well understood, but a role for H2O2-producing Lactobacillus spp. in protecting against colonization by catalase-negative anaerobic bacteria has been recognized. These and other aspects of BV are reviewed.