We conducted a survey of a random sample of California orthodontists and of general dentists to compare their infection control procedures. Questionnaires were returned by 124 orthodontists (56% response rate) and 126 general dentists (61% response rate). Eighteen questions were asked covering practice profile, perception of risk from hepatitis B virus (HBV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), exposure to blood, barrier protection used, and sterilization and disinfection procedures. Gloves always were worn by 80% of the orthodontists sampled, 63% always wore glasses, and 59% changed gloves between patients. Orthodontists sterilized their instruments 66% of the time and pliers 49% of the time. Compared with general dentists, orthodontists' perception of risk, use of barrier protection, and sterilization and disinfection procedures were lower in all areas. Our data suggest that poorer performance may be because orthodontists: (1) perceive their younger population of patients at less risk for HBV and HIV; (2) treat 2.5 times as many patients, which increases the costs of infection control; (3) do not use invasive procedures; and (4) perceive that glove use decreases dexterity. Orthodontists should follow the American Dental Association/Council on Dental Therapeutics infection control guidelines for universal precautions. To meet these guidelines, orthodontists still need improvement in all aspects of their infection control procedures.