This paper arises out of two workshop sessions held at the fourth meeting of the Federation of Infection Societies, Manchester, 1997. The aims of the workshops were, first, to identify the factors which impede the process of translating research findings into infection control practice and second, to suggest how these barriers may be overcome. Key points from the workshops are presented within an idealized framework of creating, implementing and maintaining evidence-based infection control practice. This lends structure to our exploration of the evidence underlying infection control guidance and the reasons why such guidance often does not result in appropriate action by healthcare workers. The strengths and weaknesses of each stage of the process are examined, using examples provided by participants at the workshop.