Infection, although uncommon, can be the most lethal of all potential complications after transvenous pacemaker implantation. The infection rate at our institution has been 0.56% (42 implants) during the preceding 17 years for 7435 transvenous pacemakers implanted in 4333 patients. Four of the 42 patients required use of cardiopulmonary bypass or inflow occlusion to remove the infected transvenous leads. Seven patients had their pacemakers implanted elsewhere and were transferred to our medical center for treatment. One patient died postoperatively because of persistent sepsis from a retained lead segment. All other patients survived, and none had recurrent infection. We recommend removal of all hardware if there is infection of the pacemaker system. If traction or other methods fail to remove the transvenous portion of the pacemaker system, open methods of removal, although rarely required, are safe and effective and should be used without delay.