We analyzed the wound infection rate of 1,367 primary total hip and knee arthroplasties performed between 1991 and 1999. Two hundred and fifteen arthroplasties were performed with 3 doses (3 x 750 mg) of cefuroxime, and 1,152 arthroplasties were performed with a single preoperative dose (1 x 1 g) of cefazolin as antimicrobial prophylaxis. All wound infections that occurred within 2 years of the index surgery were analyzed. The deep wound infection rate of total hip arthroplasty was 1.1% (95% confidence interval [CI], 0%-3.3%) in the cefuroxime group and 1.1% (95% CI, 0%-2.2%) in the cefazolin group (Fisher's exact test, P = 1.0). The deep wound infection rate of total knee arthroplasty in the cefuroxime group (1.6%; 95% CI, 0%-3.8%) was not significantly different from the cefazolin group (1.0%; 95% CI, 0.3%-1.7%) (Fisher's exact test, P =.63). We concluded that a single dose (1 g) of cefazolin given at anesthetic induction offered similar protection to 3 doses (3 x 750 mg) of cefuroxime in preventing infection in primary total joint arthroplasty.