One in seven young men between the ages of 20 and 24 are infected with chlamydia, according to figures released by the Health Protection Agency (HPA).
The data, which were presented at the agency's annual conference, reveal that 13.3 per cent of 20 to 24-year-old males and 12.1 per cent of young women between the ages of 16 and 19 tested positive for the infection, which is sexually transmitted.
People infected with chlamydia are commonly free from symptoms, meaning that it passes easily through a population without being noticed.
Despite the lack of symptoms, the infection can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancies and infertility in females, as well as testicular pain and swelling in males.
The figures were obtained through a screening programme, which has tested over 180,000 young people's sexual health since 2003.
Dr Mary Macintosh, director of the HPA's programme, told the BBC: "The importance of young people accessing this programme cannot be understated.
"Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted infection in England, with 96,204 diagnoses in genitourinary medicine clinics in 2005."
Use of a condom with all new and casual partners is recommended to avoid the risk of infection with chlamydia and other sexually transmitted diseases.