The use of autotransfusion--the retrieval and reinfusion of shed blood--has been demonstrated to be a beneficial therapeutic modality for the trauma patient. The use of autotransfusion is indicated for major blood losses of the patient who experiences blunt or penetrating trauma and has an external or a cavitational bleeding source. Advantages and disadvantages are numerous. It does appear that because of the low incidence of complications and the many advantages, autotransfusion will become a widespread resuscitative technique for use with the trauma patient. The procedure also has clinical application for those other than trauma patients. The nursing implications suggested by this new modality are many, including legal considerations, safety factors, protocol adoption, and new nursing roles. Perhaps the most positive benefit to nursing is the opportunity for clinical nursing staff (ER and OR) to become involved in nursing research that they can apply directly to their clinical setting.