Hospital surveillance for infection control purposes is a well-accepted method of following nosocomial infections in U.S. hospitals. However, hospital surveillance is being increasingly performed for nosocomial events in noninfectious areas, such as quality assurance and other areas of outcomes research. For the continued development of hospital surveillance in all these areas, dramatic growth in the amount of information collected will occur. To accommodate this growth and to validate new approaches in these areas, large amounts of data collection will be necessary. Collection of these data will be quite difficult without the creation of clinical hospital data bases in which large amounts of information are collected as a routine part of patient care, not as an elaborate addition to patient care. Automated hospital information systems, such as the HELP system, can facilitate the conduct of ongoing hospital surveillance not only in infection control but also in a broad range of areas, such as quality improvement outcomes research and cost-containment areas.