Aspiration of acid gastric juice poses a potential threat during operations. Many anesthesiologists use a variety of agents aimed at decreasing gastric volume and/or acidity. The effect of three agents on gastric volume, pH, and flora, and the effect of cefazolin on gastric flora in morbidly obese patients were studied. Cefazolin did not sterilize the gastric lumen. Almost one-half of patients not treated with an H2 blocker had a pH below 2.5 and a gastric volume of 20 ml or more. Five had both a low pH and significant volume and, thus, the potential for lethal aspiration. Two doses of cimetidine, 300 mgm orally, or of ranitidine, 150 orally, the evening before and the morning of operation decreased gastric volume and raised pH reliably to a level that should be protective from fatal aspiration. However, gastric cultures after these drugs were positive 86% of the time with a larger variety of organisms than in the untreated stomachs. Metoclopramide failed to decrease gastric volume or raise pH. Transoperative cefazolin was used in all patients. Clinical infection was not a problem.