INTRODUCTION: Toenail onychomycosis is a common disease in which treatment options are limited and treatment failures and disease recurrence are frequently encountered. It usually requires many months of treatment, and recurrence may occur in more than half of the patients within 1 year or more after the infection has been eradicated. Data on long-term treatment, follow-up and recurrence are limited. OBJECTIVE: Our objective is to interpret these data and recommend practical approaches that should minimize recurrence based on our clinical experience. RESULTS: Several factors have been suggested to play a role in the high incidence of recurrence, but only the extent of nail involvement and co-existing diabetes mellitus have been shown to have a significant impact. CONCLUSION: The use of topical antifungals to prevent recurrences after complete cure was achieved has been suggested by various workers and used successfully in our practice. However, it has never been validated through clinical studies. Topical prophylaxis once weekly or twice monthly would seem appropriate in those patients most at risk. Prompt treatment of tinea pedis is essential, as is ensuring family members are free from disease. Patient education and pharmacologic intervention are equally important, and there are a number of simple strategies patients can employ. Managing onychomycosis is a significant long-term commitment for any patient, and minimizing recurrence is critical to meet their expectations.