Background: Approximately 15% to 25% of all hospitalised patients have indwelling urethral catheters, mainly to assist clinicians to accurately monitor urine output during acute illness or following surgery, to treat urinary retention, and for investigative purposes. Objectives: The objective of this review was to determine the best strategies for the removal of catheters from patients with a short-term indwelling urethral catheter. The main outcome of interest was the number of patients who required recatheterisation following removal of indwelling urethral catheter. Search strategy: We searched the Cochrane Incontinence Group Specialised Register (searched 7 December 2005), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (The Cochrane Library 2006, Issue 2), MEDLINE (January 1966 to 12 July 2006), EMBASE (January 1980 to 12 July 2006), CINAHL (January 1982 to 12 July 2006), Nursing Collection (January 1995 to January 2002) and reference lists of relevant articles and conference proceedings were searched. We also contacted manufacturers and researchers in the field. No language or other restrictions were applied. Selection criteria: All randomised and quasi-randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that compared the effects of alternative strategies for removal of short-term indwelling urethral catheters on patient outcomes were considered for inclusion in the review. Data collection and analysis: Eligibility of the trials for inclusion in the review, details of eligible trials and the methodological quality of the trials were assessed independently by two reviewers. Relative risks (RR) for dichotomous data and a weighted mean difference (WMD) for continuous data were calculated with 95% confidence intervals (CI). Where synthesis was inappropriate, trials were considered separately. Main results: Twenty six trials involving a total of 2933 participants were included in the review. One trial included three treatment groups. In 11 RCTs amongst 1389 people, there was no significant difference in need for recatheterisation, although recatheterisation after removal at night was more likely to be during working hours. Pooled results demonstrated that, following urological surgery and procedures, patients whose indwelling urethral catheters were removed at midnight passed significantly larger volumes at their first void (Difference (fixed) 96 ml; 95% CI 62 to 130). Similar findings were reported for patients following TURP (Difference (fixed) 27; 95% CI 23 to 31). Removal at midnight was also associated with longer time to first void, and shorter lengths of hospitalisation (relative risk of not going home on day of removal = 0.71, 95% CI 0.64 to 0.79). Results in 13 trials amongst 1422 participants having early rather than delayed catheter removal were consistent with a higher risk of voiding problems and a lower risk of infection, with shorter hospitalisation. Copyright �� 2008 The Cochrane Collaboration. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.