Our aim was to determine if the detection rate of infection of total hip replacements could be improved by examining the removed prostheses. Immediate transfer of prostheses to an anaerobic atmosphere, followed by mild ultrasonication to dislodge adherent bacteria, resulted in the culture of quantifiable numbers of bacteria, from 26 of the 120 implants examined. The same bacterial species were cultured by routine microbiological techniques from only five corresponding tissue samples. Tissue removed from 18 of the culture-positive implants was suitable for quantitative tissue pathology and inflammatory cells were present in all samples. Furthermore, inflammatory cells were present in 87% of tissue samples taken from patients whose implants were culture-negative. This suggests that these implants may have been infected by bacteria which were not isolated by the techniques of culture used. The increased detection of bacteria from prostheses by culture has improved postoperative antibiotic therapy and should reduce the need for further revision.