Stone formation in the urinary tract affects about 5-10% of the population in industrialized countries, although it is very rare in other countries such as Greenland or Japan. The high incidence and recurrence rate contribute to making the urolithiasis a serious social problem. Nowadays, urolithiasis must be considered a 'disease in evolution' for several reasons, such as epidemiological changes, evolution of the methods used for diagnosis, and the treatment and prophylaxis of the population considered 'at risk' of stone disease. Some features of stone disease have changed over the last few years due to many social, economical and cultural factors that are described here. The increased prevalence of small urinary calculi has brought about a change in clinical symptoms, with frequent episodes of renal-ureteral colic, persistent pain and hydronephrosis. Similarly, the presence of residual fragments after extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy has induced a radical change in the management of small calculi through the use of mini-invasive surgical techniques. Copyright 2007 S. Karger AG, Basel.