5-aminosalicylate is a fundamental treatment for patients with ulcerative colitis with mild-to-moderate disease; however, evidence for 5-aminosalicylate treatment is unclear in some situations. This review discusses the clinical guidelines and previous studies, and highlights the following points: (1) Although rectal 5-aminosalicylate is effective for proctitis, physicians should endeavor to reduce patient's distress when administering suppositories or enema as the first-line therapy. It should be clarified whether oral 5-aminosalicylate alone with a drug delivery system that allows higher 5-aminosalicylate concentrations to reach the distal colon would be as effective as rectal 5-aminosalicylate therapy. (2) There has been no direct evidence demonstrating the clinical efficacy of switching the 5-aminosalicylate treatment to other 5-aminosalicylate formulations. However, switching to a different 5-aminosalicylate formulation may be indicated if clinical symptoms are not progressive. (3) Several studies have shown that colonic mucosal 5-aminosalicylate concentration correlates with clinical and endoscopic severity; however, it is unclear whether a high 5-aminosalicylate concentration has therapeutic efficacy. (4) The maximum dose of 5-aminosalicylate is necessary for patients with risk factors for recurrence or hospitalization. (5) Optimization of 5-aminosalicylate dosage may be indicated even for quiescent patients with ulcerative colitis if mucosal healing is not obtained, and if patients have multiple risk factors for recurrence. (6) Furthermore, the discontinuation of 5-aminosalicylate is acceptable when biologics are used. Because there are many "old studies" providing evidence for 5-aminosalicylate formulations, more clinical studies are needed to establish new evidence.