Twenty-nine patients with necrotizing fasciitis were treated from 1980 to 1988. This study evaluates how the addition of hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy to surgical treatment has affected mortality and the number of debridements required to achieve wound control in these patients. Two groups of patients were viewed: group 1 (n = 12) received surgical debridement and antibiotics only; group 2 (n = 17) received HBO (90 minutes at 2.5 atm, average 7.4 treatments) in addition to surgery and antibiotics. Both groups were similar in age, race, sex, wound bacteriology, and antimicrobial therapy. Body surface area affected was similar, however, perineal involvement was more common in group 2 (53%) than in group 1 (12%). The admitting conditions of patients in group 1 (non-HBO) were diabetic, 33%; white blood cell count more than 12,000, 50%; and shock, 8%. The admitting conditions of patients in group 2 (HBO) were diabetic, 47%; white blood cell count more than 12,000, 59%; and shock, 29%. Although group 2 patients receiving HBO were more seriously ill on admission, mortality was significantly lower (23%) compared to group 1 (66%) (p less than 0.02). In addition, only 1.2 debridements per group 2 patient were required to achieve wound control versus 3.3 debridements per group 1 patient (p less than 0.03). The addition of HBO therapy to the surgical and antimicrobial treatment of necrotizing fasciitis significantly reduced mortality and wound morbidity (number of debridements) in this study, especially among nonclostridial infections. We conclude that HBO should be used routinely in the treatment of necrotizing fasciitis.