Staphylococcus aureus was frequently isolated, usually in small numbers, from cotton gowns (12.6 per cent), plastic aprons (9.2 per cent) and nurses' uniforms (15 per cent). Gram-negative bacilli were infrequently isolated. Contamination of the protective clothing did not increase when used over periods of up to 11 days. Fewer organisms were recovered from the front of nurses' uniforms when plastic aprons instead of gowns were worn, but gowns provided better shoulder protection. However, no differences were observed in isolations of Staph, aureus or Gram-negative bacilli from these sites.