Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a chronic disease of the GI tract that is characterized by mucosal inflammation in the colon. Mesalamine (mesalazine) is a 5-aminosalicylic acid compound that is the first-line treatment for patients with mild-to-moderate UC. There are multiple formulations of mesalamine available, primarily differentiated by their means of delivering active mesalamine to the colon. Mesalamine has been demonstrated in randomized controlled trials to induce both clinical response and remission, and maintain clinical remission, in these patients. It has few serious adverse effects and is generally well tolerated by patients. The main areas of uncertainty with use of mesalamine in patients with UC center on the optimal dose for induction of response, how to maintain patient adherence and the role of mesalamine in cancer chemoprophylaxis. Generic forms of mesalamine have yet to be approved by regulatory bodies in the USA.