General surgical chief residents in all approved training programs were surveyed to evaluate the influence of fellowships, specialization, and research. Respondents represented 76% of programs and 60% of residents. Most chief residents plan to take post-residency fellowships. This is most common among those from university training programs and residents planning an academic career. Vascular surgery and cardiothoracic surgery represent half of all fellowships. Sixty-two percent of residents plan to enter private practice compared with 28% who plan to join a medical school faculty. More than one third of university trainees plan an academic career. More than 90% plan fellowships. The practice of general surgery alone or combined with a specialty was more common among trainees from independent training programs. Practice of a subspecialty was more common among university trainees. More than 80% of residents did research during training. Research leading to publication was more common among university trainees planning academic careers and least common among future general surgeons. This survey suggests that general surgery is predominant among residents in independent training programs who then enter private practice. University programs produce subspecialists who are predominant among future academic surgeons. This trend has vital implications for the future of academic general surgery.