We studied the clinical course of 506 children consecutively admitted with appendicitis at The Hospital for Sick Children from 1985 to 1989. One hundred eighty-one children (35%), ranging in age from 1 to 17 years, presented with perforation verified by histological examination. Ninety-six of them (53%) had generalized peritonitis, 47 (26%) had localized peritonitis, and 38 (21%) had abscess formation. Usually, triple antibiotics were begun preoperatively if perforation was suspected; otherwise, cefoxitin was started. Triple antibiotics were used postoperatively for 5 to 7 days in almost all children in the perforated group. Neither abdominal nor subcutaneous drainage was routinely used even in cases of intraabdominal abscess. The skin was closed primarily with steri-strips (63%), staples (20%), subcutaneous Dexon (11%), or silk (4%). Postoperative wound infection arose in 20 children (11%). Wound infections were noted from 1 to 14 days postoperatively (mean, 5.9 days). Whereas 9 of these were treated with local therapy only, 11 delayed the child's discharge or necessitated readmission. No patient suffered major complications from wound infection in that there were no cases of necrotizing fasciitis, reoperation for debridement, sepsis, or death. The intraabdominal abscess rate in this group of 181 children was 6% (n = 11). The low rate of infective complications fully justifies the policy of primary closure in contaminated wounds. This policy eliminates the necessity for painful and time-consuming dressing changes, shortens hospitalization, and obviates the trauma of delayed suturing of wounds in children.