Abstract Backround We undertook a prospective study of all new central venous catheters inserted into patients in the intensive care units, in order to identify the risk factors and to determine the effect of glycopeptide antibiotics on catheter – related infections. Methods During the study period 300 patients with central venous catheters were prospectively studied. The catheters used were nontunneled, noncuffed, triple lumen and made of polyurethane material. Catheters were cultured by semiquantitative method and blood cultures done when indicated. Data were obtained on patient age, gender, unit, primary diagnosis on admission, catheter insertion site, duration of catheterization, whether it was the first or a subsequent catheter and glycopeptide antibiotic usage. Results Ninety-one (30.3%) of the catheters were colonized and infection was found with 50 (16.7%) catheters. Infection was diagnosed with higher rate in catheters inserted via jugular vein in comparison with subclavian vein (95% CI: 1.32–4.81, p = 0.005). The incidence of infection was higher in catheters which were kept in place for more than seven days (95% CI 1.05–3.87, p = 0.03). The incidence of infection was lower in patients who were using glycopeptide antibiotic during catheterization (95% CI: 1.49–5.51, p = 0.005). The rate of infection with Gram positive cocci was significantly lower in glycopeptide antibiotic using patients (p = 0.01). The most commonly isolated organism was Staphylococcus aureus (n = 52, 37.1%). Conclusion Duration of catheterization and catheter insertion site were independent risk factors for catheter related infection. Use of glycopeptide antibiotic during catheterization seems to have protective effect against catheter related infection.