Management of septic pulmonary embolism now suggests a predictability of the clinical course which often allows an early decision regarding the need for definitive thoracotomy. Sixty patients have been treated within the past 5 years. Antibiotics were employed in all patients, administered whenever possible according to cultures. In 12 patients thoracotomy was required. This involved decortication and varying amounts of pulmonary resection from wedge excision to pneumonectomy. Early appreciation of septic pulmonary embolism and prompt thoracotomy can frequently obviate the need for tardy open drainage procedures with consequent prolonged recovery. Sources of emboli must be controlled. Interruption of the inferior vena cava, vein excision, aggressive control of peripheral abscesses, and excision of the tricuspid valve may be required. Reliance on antiocagulants alone to control emboli is dangerous, and proper surgical intervention and antibiotic therapy reduce the need for long-term anticoagulation.