Intact surgical gloves provide an efficient barrier against the HIV and Hepatitis B viruses but glove perforations are common, particularly during mass closure of laparotomy wounds. Attempts to develop gloves immune to perforation have failed. A series of 100 consecutive laparotomy wounds were randomised to mass closure by either the 'hand in' technique currently favoured by many surgeons, or a 'no touch' technique manipulating the wound edges with instruments only. The two groups were similar with regard to grade of surgeon and assistant, proportion of routine and emergency cases, and proportion of clean or dirty cases. The wound lengths in each group were similar, and the time taken to close the abdominal wall was similar in both groups. Although a similar number of perforated gloves occurred in each group while the operative procedure was being performed ('hand in', 9 of 50 vs 'no touch', 12 of 50; P = 0.62); a significantly reduced number of glove perforations occurred in the 'no touch' group during wound closure ('hand in', 16 of 50 vs 'no touch', 3 of 50, P = 0.0017). No touch closure of the abdominal wall may provide protection to surgeons against blood-borne viruses such as HIV and hepatitis B.