OBJECTIVE: The objective of this review is to determine the effects of clamping short-term indwelling urethral catheters before removal on the incidence of urinary tract infection, time to first void, voiding dysfunction, incidence of recatheterization, and the length of hospital stay. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Published and unpublished randomized and quasi-randomized controlled trials, completed between January 1966 and July 2004, in English and other languages that compared the effects of clamping short-term in-dwelling urethral catheters, were systematically reviewed using multiple electronic databases. Determination of eligibility of trials for inclusion in the review, assessment of methodological quality, and data extraction were undertaken independently by 2 reviewers. Relative risks for dichotomous data and a weighted mean difference for continuous data were calculated with 95% confidence intervals. Where synthesis was inappropriate, a narrative overview has been undertaken. RESULTS: Three trials that investigated the effect of clamping the indwelling urethral catheter compared to free drainage before removal were eligible for inclusion. Two trials reported no significant difference in the incidence of urinary tract infection (UTI), number of patients who developed urinary retention or required recatheterization, and the length of hospital stay between the 2 groups. Another reported that the postvoid residual urine volume for patients who did not receive reconditioning of the bladder increased from 4.25 mL at baseline to 42.25 mL after removal of the indwelling urethral catheter, whereas the residual urine volume for patients who received reconditioning increased from 17.25 mL at baseline to 22 mL at follow-up. CONCLUSIONS: The evidence for clamping indwelling urethral catheters before removal remains equivocal. Given the current state of evidence, procedures relating to clamping of indwelling urinary catheters should not be initiated. Until stronger evidence becomes available, however, practices relating to clamping in-dwelling urethral catheters will continue to be dictated by local preferences and cost factors. Copyright © 2005 by the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society.