From 1988 through 1992, we conducted a prospective study of postdischarge surgical wound infection surveillance in our institution. A total of 6604 patients were seen after discharge in a centralized outpatient clinic, supervised by the infection control commission. Wounds were inspected, stitches were removed, and dressings were changed. This care was followed by referral of patients to the appropriate specialized surgical clinic. Postdischarge patient return rates for the period studied ranged from 68.4% to 91.2%. Wound infection detection in the outpatient clinic ranged from 32.2% (20 patients in 1991) to 50% (44 patients in 1990) for general surgical procedures and 52.9% (18 patients in 1990) to 91.4% (32 patients in 1992) for cesarean sections. Most surgical wound infections (87.6%, 127 patients) were diagnosed between the first and fourteenth postoperative days. We conclude that centralized postdischarge surveillance, as practiced in our institution, has enhanced the retrieval of wound infection data. At present, there is no universally accepted strategy for monitoring postdischarge surgical wound infection; however, we must take a rigorous approach to detect patients at risk for infection in our continuous attempt to improve the quality of surgical and postoperative care.