The understanding of the formation of urinary stones centers around three main mechanisms: the urinary concentration of stone-forming ions, the role of promoters, and the role of inhibitors of crystal formation and crystal aggregation. With respect to the promoting activity, lately emphasis has shifted from the role of the organic matrix to that of one salt inducing by epitaxy the precipitation of another salt. Among the inhibitors, it has become necessary to distinguish between those affecting crystal formation and those affecting crystal aggregation. For measuring the inhibitory activity, the various techniques and their relevance have been reviewed. It has been found that the main inhibitors for calcium phosphate and calcium oxalate precipitation are citrate, pyrophosphate, and perhaps magnesium. Those for calcium phosphate and calcium oxalate aggregation are glycosaminoglycans, pyrophosphate, and citrate. Among the synthetic inhibitors, the diphosphonates are the most powerful for both processes. The role and the therapeutic implications of these various concepts have been discussed.