Twenty-five patients with active, chronic osteomyelitis, resistant to conventional management, were treated with surgical debridement and daily application of electrically activated silver dressings. Sixteen (64%) cases resulted in closed, stable, pain-free wounds, with the remainder resulting in persistent drainage or amputation. Nine of 12 cases complicated by nonunion achieved union. In 13 patients an open-bone graft was performed and silver treatment continued: these tended to remain free of purulent drainage but fared no better than average in the long-term follow-up. The silver anode dressing seems to be an effective aid in the treatment of chronic bone infection when combined with adequate surgical debridement, thereby reducing the need for prolonged systemic antibiotics.