Ninety-one elderly male residents of a skilled nursing facility were classified as nonbacteriuric (41%), intermittently bacteriuric (34%), or continuously bacteriuric (25%) on the basis of urine cultures obtained over a 3-year period. Bacteriuric and nonbacteriuric residents were similar in age, number of diagnoses and medications, and mobility. However, bacteriuric residents were more frequently confused or demented, whether continuously bacteriuric (78%) or intermittently bacteriuric (62%) compared with nonbacteriuric residents (42%) (p < 0.04). In addition, bacteriuria was significantly associated with incontinence of bladder (96% of continuous, 66% of intermittent, and 25% of nonbacteriuric; p < 0.001) and bowel (52%, 39%, and 5.5%, respectively; p < 0.002). At 6 years of follow-up there were no differences in survival among the three groups. Urinary tract infection caused or contributed to only two (2.9%) deaths. Thus, in this population, bacteriuria was associated with higher functional disability but not with increased mortality.