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A total of 624 consecutive eligible patients undergoing abdominal operations received a single preoperative dose of amoxycillin/clavulanic acid (1.2 g Augmentin) for the prophylaxis of surgical wound infection. They were randomised to have the antibiotic injected intravenously at induction of anaesthesia (n = 328) or infiltrated subcutaneously along the line of the proposed incision (n = 296). The incidence of wound infections was considerably lower in the group given the antibiotic into the abdominal wall (8.4% compared with 15.9%--chi 2 = 7.90, P = 0.005). No significant differences were found in the incidence of other major or minor infective or non-infective postoperative complications between the groups. It is concluded that preincisional intraparietal injection is more effective than intravenous injection of Augmentin for the prophylaxis of surgical wound infection.