One hundred and twenty patients with acute hip fractures treated operatively were randomized into two groups. In the 'drape' group (n = 65) the operation site was covered with plastic adhesive drape after preparation. In the 'no drape' group (n = 55) the operation site was left uncovered. The two groups were otherwise matched. Swabs for culture were taken from skin adjacent to the wound before closure. The drape group had four positive wound swabs. There was only one positive wound swab for the no-drape group. There was no difference in the post-operative wound infection rates.