Postoperative management of patients following modified radical mastectomy has changed dramatically in recent years. Historically, patients usually remained in the hospital with closed suction drainage until the amount of drainage had decreased sufficiently for them to be removed. The feasibility of early discharge on the day following surgery was studied in a prospective manner in 29 consecutive breast cancer patients; 27 underwent unilateral modified radical mastectomy and 2 bilateral mastectomies by a single surgeon. All patients were instructed before surgery about planned early discharge and drain care. Twenty-seven of 29 patients (93.3%) were discharged the day following surgery. However, 2 patients refused discharge and were discharged on postoperative Day Two, and one patient was readmitted for confusion. Drains were removed in the office an average of 5.07 days after surgery. Forty-five per cent of patients developed a seroma that required aspiration at least once. No significant long-term sequela were experienced as a result of early discharge. The average hospital cost was reduced by $2,474.00 or 36 per cent (P less than 0.001) as compared to other surgeons in the same medical center who held to traditional postoperative care. The authors conclude that discharge on the day following surgery for patients undergoing a modified radical mastectomy is safe and cost effective.