The epidemiology of Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) has changed dramatically during this millennium. Infection rates have increased markedly in most countries with detailed surveillance data. There have been clear changes in the clinical presentation, response to treatment, and outcome of CDI. These changes have been driven to a major degree by the emergence and epidemic spread of a novel strain, known as PCR ribotype 027 (sometimes referred to as BI/NAP1/027). We review the evidence for the changing epidemiology, clinical virulence and outcome of treatment of CDI, and the similarities and differences between data from various countries and continents. Community-acquired CDI has also emerged, although the evidence for this as a distinct new entity is less clear. There are new data on the etiology of and potential risk factors for CDI; controversial issues include specific antimicrobial agents, gastric acid suppressants, potential animal and food sources of C. difficile, and the effect of the use of alcohol-based hand hygiene agents.