Airborne bacteria introduced during routine joint replacement surgery are known to be an important source of joint sepsis with disastrous results. Recently, Robinson et al. [Robinson AHN, Bentley G, Drew S, Anderson J, Ridgway GL. Suction tip contamination in the ultraclean air operating theatre. Ann R Coll Surg Engl 1993; 75: 254-6] have demonstrated that the conventional surgical sucker forms a focus for airborne pathogens which results in septic loosening of hip prostheses. Similarly, the potential contamination of theatre light handles, commonly used during total hip and knee replacements, gives cause for concern. To assess if there was any evidence of contamination, we cultured bacterial swabs taken from the light handles before and after 15 such procedures, all of which were held in a conventional orthopaedic operating theatre. Fortunately, our study found no reason to stop the use of light handles in joint replacement operations.