Bacteria have been implicated in the pathogenesis and progression of pulp and periapical diseases. The primary aim of endodontic treatment is to remove as many bacteria as possible from the root canal system and then to create an environment in which any remaining organisms cannot survive. This can only be achieved through the use of a combination of aseptic treatment techniques, chemomechanical preparation of the root canal, antimicrobial irrigating solutions and intracanal medicaments. The choice of which intracanal medicament to use is dependent on having an accurate diagnosis of the condition being treated, as well as a thorough knowledge of the type of organisms likely to be involved and their mechanisms of growth and survival. Since the disease is likely to have been caused by the presence of bacteria within the root canal, the use of an antimicrobial agent is essential. Many medicaments have been used in an attempt to achieve the above aims but no single preparation has been found to be completely predictable or effective. Commonly used medicaments include calcium hydroxide, antibiotics, non-phenolic biocides, phenolic biocides and iodine compounds. Each has advantages and disadvantages, and further research is required to determine which is best suited for root canal infections.