The urothelium is a multifunctional tissue that not only acts as a barrier between the vesical contents of the lower urinary tract and the underlying tissues but also acts as a sensory organ by transducing physical and chemical stresses to the attendant afferent nervous system and underlying smooth muscle. This review will consider the nature of the stresses that the urothelium can transduce; the transmitters that mediate the transduction process; and how lower urinary pathologies, including overactive bladder syndrome, painful bladder syndrome and bacterial infections, are associated with alterations to this sensory system. In particular, the role of muscarinic receptors and the TRPV channels system will be discussed in this context. The urothelium also influences the contractile state of detrusor smooth muscle, both through modifying its contractility and the extent of spontaneous activity; potential pathways are discussed. The potential role that the urothelium may play in bladder underactivity is introduced, as well as potential biomarkers for the condition that may cross the urothelium to the urine. Finally, consideration is given to vesical administration of therapeutic agents that influence urinary tract function and how the properties of the urothelium may determine the effectiveness of this mode of delivery. Neurourol. Urodynam. 31:293–299, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.