Neisseria gonorrhoeae is one of the most important causes of sexually transmitted disease. We do not fully understand the pathogenesis of infection with this organism, although recent improvements in immunological and molecular techniques have brought us closer to an answer. These techniques are now also being used to detect and identify N gonorrhoeae and to analyse the epidemiology of gonorrhoea. Plasmid and chromosomal mediated antibiotic resistance increases the difficulty of controlling gonorrhoea. Resistant strains occur all over the world and new patterns of resistance are still emerging. A better understanding of gonococcal pathogenicity is necessary for the development of an effective vaccine. Despite work on pili and outer membrane proteins no vaccine yet exists. The control of gonorrhoea still depends on diagnosis, treatment, and epidemiological control, facilities that are not widely available in many of those parts of the world where gonorrhoea is a major problem.