The emphasis on cost reduction and increased efficiency in health care delivery has prompted an increase in outpatient (ambulatory) surgical procedures. A retrospective review of the perioperative management of patients undergoing cleft lip repair at two urban tertiary pediatric hospitals was performed to assess the safety of outpatient cleft lip repair. The hospital database at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles was searched to find all patients who had been operated on for cleft lip repair during calendar years 1999 and 2000. Two groups were identified from Childrens Hospital Los Angeles: the outpatient cleft lip repair group (patients discharged the same day as the operation; n = 91) and the inpatient cleft lip repair group (n = 14). A data set was acquired from the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, using the same criteria, for fiscal years 1998 to 2000 (n = 50). All patients from Royal Children's Hospital had operations as inpatients. Parameters considered for each group were age, sex, race, ethnicity, length of hospital stay, preexisting medical conditions or diagnoses, complications, and readmissions or presentation to the emergency department within 4 weeks of operation. The Childrens Hospital Los Angeles outpatient group had three readmissions that were considered to be complications of the operation. The Childrens Hospital Los Angeles inpatient group had one readmission attributable to a complication. The Royal Children's Hospital group also had one readmission for a complication. There was no significant difference in the complication rate of the Childrens Hospital Los Angeles outpatient group and the Royal Children's Hospital group (p > 0.05). There was also no significant difference in the complication rate of both of the Childrens Hospital Los Angeles groups compared with the Royal Children's Hospital group (p > 0.05). This study indicates that cleft lip repair performed in an outpatient setting may be a safe alternative to the inpatient operation. Certain preexisting medical conditions, however, may dictate the need for inpatient hospitalization after repair.