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In the last 30 years, major improvements have been made in understanding the pathogenesis, diagnosis and treatment of infective endocarditis. Nevertheless, mortality still remains high, close to 30–40% at 1 year, and its reduction remains the main challenge. Moreover, important epidemiological changes have been recorded. Social changes in Western countries have led to an increase in the mean length of life, and thus in degenerative valvular diseases, whereas rheumatic heart disease has almost disappeared. Increasing medicalization has led to a rise in complications and diseases related to longer hospital stay, surgical therapies and other invasive interventions. At the same time, there is an increase in immunosuppressive therapies, diseases such as cancer, diabetes mellitus and renal insufficiency that may enhance the disease. Further knowledge is needed for specific subgroups to improve both treatment and prognosis. Nevertheless, randomized trials are lacking to guide the management of the disease, and the role and indications of antibiotic prophylaxis are still the subject of debate. International multicenter studies are providing new important findings based on the experience of tertiary centers; these results may reflect referral biases. The proposal of an Italian national registry on infective endocarditis (RIEI) will overcome these limitations and provide a wide picture of the national presentation of the disease. The aim of the registry is to improve the management of infective endocarditis, through a better understanding of demographic, clinical, therapeutic and prognostic features of the disease in the real world. The background, rationale, aims and expected results of the registry are reviewed.