To effectively control bladder activity, and to treat urinary incontinence caused by bladder overactivity, identification of suitable targets for pharmacological intervention is necessary. Such targets may be found in the central nervous system (CNS) or peripherally. The causes of bladder overactivity are not known, but theoretically increased afferent activity, decreased inhibitory control in the CNS and/or peripheral ganglia, and increased sensitivity of the detrusor to efferent stimulation may be involved. Several CNS transmitters may modulate voiding, but few drugs with a defined CNS site of action have been developed for treatment of voiding disorders. Potentially, drugs affecting GABA, opioid, 5-HT, noradrenaline, dopamine, or glutamatergic receptors and mechanisms can be developed, but a selective action on the lower urinary tract may be difficult to obtain. Traditionally, drugs used for treatment of bladder overactivity have had a peripheral site of action, mainly the efferent neurotransmission or the detrusor muscle itself. Antimuscarinic drugs, β-adrenoceptor agonists, α-adrenoceptor antagonists, drugs affecting membrane channels, prostaglandin synthetase inhibitors and several other agents have been used. However, none of them has been developed specifically for treatment of bladder disorders, and their efficacy, as judged from controlled clinical trials (where performed), is often limited. Recent information on the α-adrenoceptor, β-adrenoceptor (β3), and muscarinic receptor subtypes of the human detrusor and outflow region can be the basis for the development of compounds with effect on bladder overactivity and with improved tolerance. New ways of decreasing acetylcholine release may represent a promising way of controlling bladder contraction. Potassium channel (KATP) openers are theoretically attractive, but the drugs available so far have targeted vascular rather than bladder smooth muscle, which has limited their clinical use. However, new drugs belonging to these groups with an interesting profile of action have been developed. Drugs decreasing afferent activity represent an attractive therapeutic approach and transmitters of afferent nerves and their receptors are possible targets for pharmacological interventions. Tachykinins, such as substance P, neurokinins A and B, and other neuropeptides have been demonstrated in nerves of the lower urinary tract and have been shown to influence bladder function. Agents affecting these nerves by causing release of tachykinins, such as capsaicin and resiniferatoxin, given intravesically can be effective in some cases of bladder overactivity, and agents antagonizing tachykinin receptors may also be of therapeutic interest.New drugs specifically directed for control of bladder activity are under development and will hopefully lead to improved treatment of urinary incontinence.This study was supported by the Swedish Medical Research Council (grant no. 6837).