Improving the care of trauma patients in a rural environment requires that several important issues be addressed. First, a universal definition of what constitutes "rural" must be established. We propose that a combined effort of the Federal Government and the Committee on Trauma of the American College of Surgeons develop this definition. Second, data on rural trauma demographics and outcome must be collected in a national database. We propose that this database be incorporated in the "TRACS" database of the Committee on Trauma of the American College of Surgeons. Such a database will allow a "needs assessment analysis of existing care in rural environments and facilitate planning and implementation of efficient systems of care. Funding for the rural database should come from the federal government. Finally, increased public awareness of problems unique to rural trauma care is necessary. The rural trauma subcommittee of the ACSCOT should go from an ad hoc committee to a standing committee with the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma. We propose a national conference on rural trauma care hosted by the federal government for the purpose of addressing these issues and simultaneously increasing public awareness.