A prospective study of general surgical experience obtained by 13 first year Senior House Officers (SHOs) in South East Scotland is presented. On average a Senior House Officer (SHO) operating as the principal surgeon performed 15 appendicectomies (range 7-26), 17 inguinal herniorrhaphies (range 7-42) and 17 varicose vein operations (range 5-33) over their first 12 months. The senior author, as a first year SHO in 1985, performed 23 appendicectomies, 36 inguinal herniorrhaphies and 18 varicose vein operations as the principal surgeon. The operative supervision of SHOs provided either by the Consultant or the Registrar varied widely between units despite a uniformity in available training operations. Clearly many opportunities are being lost within the region and greater organisation is necessary in some units to capitalise on existing training opportunities and thus optimise SHO training. In general, it is still possible, despite the reduction in working hours, for SHOs to receive similar operative experience now as was possible 13 years ago.