- Pope Visits Middle East (May 5 et seq.): John Paul II greeted in Syria by new president, Bashar al-Assad, who publicly accuses Israel of torturing and murdering Palestinians.
- U.S. Resumes Spy Flights off China Coast (May 7): First mission since Navy plane and Chinese fighter jet collided in April. Flight completed without incident.
- China Bars Flight by Stranded U.S. Plane (May 8): Refuses to allow damaged surveillance aircraft to be repaired and flown from Hainan Island.
- Conservatives Win Italian Election (May 14): Coalition behind media magnate Silvio Berlusconi wins majority in each house of parliament. Berlusconi elected to a second, non-consecutive term as prime minister.
- Israelis and Palestinians Clash (May 18): Suicide bomber kills five Israelis and wounds more than 100 at crowded shopping mall in Netanya. By evening Israeli warplanes retaliate by attacking West Bank and Gaza Strip for first time since 1967 war.
- U.S. Broadens Role in Middle East (May 21): Senior State Department aide urged to actively help Israelis and Palestinians take steps to resume peace talks.
- Israeli Building Collapse Kills at Least 25 (May 25): Crowded dance floor in Jerusalem falls onto packed floor below. More than 300 severely injured.
- Ethnic Albanians Flee Attacks in Macedonia (May 25 et seq.): Thousands escape on foot in face of Macedonian government offensive against rebels in northern hills.
- Russia Stands Firm on Missile Treaty (May 28): Kremlin says U.S. offer to use Russian missiles and radar in new antimissile system will not affect its opposition to scrapping 1972 antiballistic missile treaty.
- China to Return Downed U.S. Plane (May 29): American surveillance aircraft will be partially dismantled and shipped to the U.S. on Russian-designed cargo plane.
- FBI Director Plans to Resign (May 1): Louis J. Freeh will leave post in June after eight years in which he expanded agency's world activity but faced criticism for recent high-profile missteps.
- U.S. Spending Agreement Reached (May 2): White House and congressional negotiators settle on nearly 5% budget increase for next year.
- Bush to Modify Ban on Forest Roads (May 3): White House to permit protection of national areas from development but will allow local officials to amend plan.
- Chairman of SEC Appointed (May 7): White House names Harvey L. Pitt, prominent corporate lawyer and critic of agency he will regulate.
- Bush Chooses Pro-Business Advocates (May 9): Fills several environmental-related jobs with representatives of various industries that have faced off against federal government, especially during Clinton era.
- McVeigh Files Withheld (May 10): FBI discovers several thousand pages of documents related to Oklahoma City bombing that agency never turned over to lawyers for Timothy McVeigh. (May 11): Citing FBI's failure to hand over all documents to McVeigh's lawyers, Attorney General John Ashcroft postpones McVeigh's execution until June 11.
- Congress Approves Major Tax Cut (May 10): Final action on budget clears way for biggest reduction in 20 years. Senate votes 53–47, with five Democrats approving budget. Previous House vote was also on party lines. Tax reduction would total $1.35 trillion over 11 years.
- U.S. to Help Fight AIDS (May 11): President Bush says nation will contribute $200 million to a global fund that is also battling malaria and tuberculosis.
- Senators Critical of FBI (May 13): Republicans and Democrats attack handling of documents in case of Timothy J. McVeigh in Oklahoma City bombing.
- Bush Outlines Energy Program (May 16): Plan calls for easing regulations on oil and gas exploration, conservation efforts, and $4 billion tax credit for highly fuel-efficient cars. President also proposes rethinking the 25-year ban on reprocessing of nuclear fuel.
- Former FBI Agent Indicted on Spy Charges (May 16): Federal grand jury alleges Robert P. Hanssen aided Moscow for more than 15 years.
- GOP Loses Control of Senate (May 24): Vermont senator James Jeffords bolts Republican Party to become an Independent. Democrats move to revamp agenda.
- Congress Completes Tax-Cut Bill (May 27): Negotiators from both houses agree on biggest reduction in 20 years. Rebate checks due to everyone who filed an income tax return in 2000.
- Bush Signs World War II Memorial Bill (May 28): Approves building for Washington Mall. Veterans cheer president at Memorial Day addresses.
- Birmingham Bomber Convicted (May 1): Alabama jury finds former klansman Thomas E. Blanton, Jr. guilty of murder in 1963 deaths of four black girls in bombing of Baptist church.
- Cincinnati Chief Quits After Racial Unrest (May 2): City Manager John Shirey resigns amid criticism of his handling of rioting over shooting death of unarmed black man by police.
- Transformation by Gays Called Possible (May 9): Columbia Univ. psychiatrist Robert Spitzer reports that some “motivated” homosexuals can become heterosexual.
- Dozens Dead in Ghana Soccer Stampede (May 9): Toll reaches 120; more deaths expected from disaster at Accra stadium.
- New Cancer Drug Approved (May 10): FDA sanctions Gleevec after swift review of clinical data. Promising results in treatment of myelogenous leukemia.
- New Class of Cancer Drug Praised (May 13): Researchers at San Francisco conference report new drug Gleevec shows promise in treating patients who do not respond to chemotherapy.
- Fed Lowers Rates Fifth Time This Year (May 15): Half-point cut intended to revive weakened economy.
- Fuel Economy of Vehicles Drops (May 17): U.S. reports average level for new cars and trucks drops to 24.5 miles per gallon, lowest since 1980.
- Firestone Bars Sale of Tires to Ford (May 21): Company charges auto maker with raising safety issue to divert attention from Explorer model.
- New Study Doubts Placebo Effect (May 23): Two Danish researchers report clinical research shows no support for common belief that, in general, about a third of patients will improve if they take a placebo that they are told is real. Researchers cite uneven course of diseases as cause of improvement.
- Disabled Golfer May Use Cart on Tour (May 29): In 7–2 decision, Supreme Court rules that Casey Martin, who has a degenerative disease, has legal right under Americans with Disabilities Act to ride during tournaments.
- Four Guilty in Terrorist Bombings (May 29): Convicted by U.S. jury in New York of conspiring to destroy embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. Two defendants found guilty of murder and can face death penalty.