Abstract Bowel preparation represents an essential part of CT colonography, as the accuracy of the exam is strongly related to the adequacy of colonic cleansing, and a poor bowel preparation may compromise the diagnostic quality even despite optimization of all other acquisition parameters. Residual stool and fluid in the large bowel may affect the interpretation of the exam and may increase the number of false positives and false negatives. In this regard, the majority of patients having undergone CT colonography state that bowel preparation is the most unpleasant part. Unfortunately, to date no definite consensus has been reached about the ideal bowel preparation technique, and there is great variability in preparation strategies across diagnostic centers. The purpose of this review article is to describe the development and evolution of bowel preparation techniques in order to choose the best approach for optimizing the diagnostic quality of CT colonography in each patient.