Eight selective surveillance methods were compared with a reference method for their ability to detect hospital infections in patients was also assessed. In the reference method, case records were reviewed three times a week, and during the 11-month period of study, 668 infections were identified amongst 3326 patients. Three hundred and thirty-eight were community acquired infections (CAI) and 330 were hospital acquired infections (HAI). The time for data collection was 18.1 h per 100 beds per week. Of the selective surveillance methods, those based on the review of treatment and temperature charts detected the highest proportion (70%) of CAI; and the review of microbiology reports with regular ward liaison identified the highest proportion (71%) of HAI. The time for data collection in the eight methods ranged from 1.2 h per 100 beds per week to 6.5 h per 100 beds per week. After considering the sensitivity for identifying patients with HAI and time for data collection, the review of microbiology reports with regular ward liaison was judged to be an effective and efficient method of surveillance.