The authors conducted a case-control study to identify risk factors for postoperative endophthalmitis. Fifty-four cases of patients who developed endophthalmitis after intraocular surgery at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary during the period from January 1988 through October 1990 were identified. A control group of 228 patients was randomly selected from the 24,105 patients who underwent intraocular surgery during this same period. Logistic regression analysis identified significant independent risks associated with intraoperative communication with the vitreous cavity (risk ratio 13.7, P less than 0.001) and use of an intraocular lens with haptics made of polypropylene (risk ratio 4.5, P = 0.007). The study predicts that there would be approximately 700 fewer cases of postoperative endophthalmitis annually in the United States (approximately a 50% decrease in incidence) if intraocular lenses with haptics made of polymethyl-methacrylate, rather than polypropylene, were used exclusively.