The prevalence of intramammary infections (IMI) and subclinical mastitis (SCM) in 436 German Holstein heifers was put in relation with clinical findings of the udder and data regarding individual rearing and housing conditions of the animals. The clinical examination took place on the day of the livestock auction (at approximately 41 d in milk, DIM). On that day, 31% of the heifers had IMI in at least one quarter, and 18% of all quarters were infected. Coagulase-negative staphylococci were the most prevalent bacteria isolated, accounting for 68% of the positive samples. Data were analysed by logistic regression. Criteria such as ‘juvenile intersucking’, ‘teats shorter than 35 mm’, ‘teats with a diameter <18 mm’ and ‘udder oedema at the day of the auction’ were associated with IMI in heifers during the first 41 DIM. Loose-housing systems during pregnancy (as opposed to tie-stalls), juvenile intersucking, clinical mastitis during the first week after calving, teat diameters <18 mm, and employing organic bedding material in the stables before calving were associated with subclinical mastitis.