In this study, we have compared the recommended configuration of a knot with specified sutures as ascertained by mechanical performance tests to that employed by a group of board-certified surgeons. Agreement between the surgeon and the results of the test was encountered in only one fourth of the instances. In another one fourth of the cases the surgeon overestimated the number of throws required for a knot to reach knot break. This additional suture material further handicaps the host's defenses, thereby inviting infection. Surgeons employed knots that untied without reaching knot break in the remaining half of the cases. The holding power of many of the knots that untied was substantially less than that of knots reaching knot break. On the basis of the study, it is recommended that results of the mechanical performance tests be made readily available to the surgeon so that his patient can receive maximal benefits from the knotted suture with the least damage to the host's defenses.