Recurrent fever can be the sole or leading manifestation of a variety of diseases including malignancies, autoimmune diseases and infections. Because the differential diagnoses are manifold, no formal guidelines for the approach of patients with recurrent fever exists. The newly recognized group of autoinflammatory diseases are often accompanied by repetitive fever attacks. As these episodes are frequently associated by a variety of divergent presentations, the differentiation of other causes for febrile illnesses can be difficult. In this article, we first review disease entities, which frequently present with the symptom of recurrent fever. In a next step, we summarize their characteristic pattern of disease presentation. Finally, we analyse key features of autoinflammatory diseases, which are helpful to distinguish this group of diseases from the other causes of recurrent fever. Recognizing these symptom patterns can provide the crucial clues and, thus, lead to the initiation of targeted specific diagnostic tests and therapies.