A total of 219 acute superficial abscesses was treated. Patients were randomly allocated to one of four treatment groups--primary suture with or without antibiotics and free drainage with or without antibiotics. No difference could be detected between the groups in duration of healing time. Eleven per cent of all abscesses sutured recurred and antibiotics did not affect this rate. It is suggested that free drainage following incision and drainage is the safest treatment for the majority of abscesses. Antibiotics do not have any significant effect on healing time or recurrence and their routine use is not recommended.