In 1992, Madonna recorded a cover version of "Fever" for her fifth studio album Erotica. She was in the studio putting down tracks for her the album and had just recorded a song called "Goodbye to Innocence". She was going through the final stages of production on it when she suddenly started singing the lyrics to "Fever" over the top of it. Madonna liked the way it sounded so much that she recorded it. "Goodbye to Innocence" was never released on a Madonna album, although it did appear on Just Say Roe, a charity record, and a dub mix of it titled "Up Down Suite" was a bonus track to the "Rain" maxi-single.
Maverick Records released Fever” as the fourth single from Erotica on March 22, 1993. It was released in the United Kingdom on 12", CD single and as a limited edition 7" picture disc featuring a still from the "Bad Girl" video. In the United States it was never officially released as a single and instead was the B-side to the single "Bad Girl", although the maxi-single of "Bad Girl" predominantly featured "Fever" remixes. In fact "Fever", as played on radio stations and shown on music channels, was not the original but a remixed version instead, a version called Edit 1 and is only commercially available on the German "Rain" CD single and 7" single, although it is known as Edit 2 on the latter format.
"Fever" became her highest debuting single from the Erotica album in the UK, entering at its peak position of #6 and comfortably selling over 85,000 copies, many of which were sold on the back of airplay alone as the video was not ready for release. The single entered just four weeks after the UK number 10 hit "Bad Girl", which was the fourth release from the Erotica album in the UK, with the fifth and final being the number 7 hit "Rain".
The heavy singles release schedule from Erotica in the UK charts was to aid sales of the parent album and keep Madonna songs on the radio airplay schedules. The video wasn't finished in time for release and with "Bad Girl" stalling at number 10 in the UK charts, Warner decided on an earlier than predicted release of "Fever". Warner quickly produced a montage of videos from her earlier works to promote the single. The original Stéphane Sednoaui-produced video has since been made commercially available on the DVD collection, The Video Collection 93:99. In the U.S. it became her fifteenth song to hit number one on the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart.
The music video, directed by Stéphane Sednaoui, was shot on April 10–11, 1993 at Greenwich Studios in Miami, Florida and world premiered on May 11, 1993 on MTV. The music video, set to the tune of the "Edit One" remix, alternately features Madonna with a red wig and silver body paint in a variety of costumes dancing in front of funky, kaleidoscopic backgrounds. This can be considered her first foray into the world of special effects before the award winning video to her hit "Bedtime Story" was conceived 2 years later. The King and I and the Balinese influences of Hindu and Buddhism inspire the costumes in the video.
Madonna first performed "Fever" on Saturday Night Live, in January 1993 along with her other hit single "Bad Girl".
She also performed "Fever" on The Girlie Show World Tour.
Madonna performed a jazz version of the song on the 1000th show special of The Arsenio Hall Show at the Hollywood Bowl in 1993.
In September 2008, "Fever" was used in television promos for the fifth season of Desperate Housewives.