The terms hospital- and community-acquired infections do not cover any longer the full spectrum of acquisition of infection. Consequently, the term healthcare associated infection (HCA) has been recently introduced. In order to examine the applicability of 'HCA infection' to patients with infective endocarditis (IE), 125 episodes of culture-positive IE were categorized into 3 groups of acquisition. 14 (11%) of 125 episodes were defined as hospital acquired (HA) IE (onset of more than 72 h after admission), 52 (42%) as HCA (IE on admission in patients with significant previous healthcare contact), and 59 (47%) as community acquired (CA) (IE on admission in people without recent healthcare contact). 41 (77%) of the 53 causative agents in the HCA IE group were typical nosocomial pathogens, whereas these types of pathogens constituted only 22% (14/64) of the microorganisms in the group of CA IE (p<0.0001). Mortality in the HA and HCA groups combined was significantly higher than that in the CA group (19/62, 31%, vs 6/59, 10%, p = 0.01). HCA IE should be recognized as a distinct category that constitutes a large proportion of all cases of IE. HCA IE is significantly different from CA IE and, therefore, may require a different therapeutic approach.