Health care-associated infections (HCAIs) are infections acquired through contact with any aspect of health care. They can cause minor complications or serious disability or death, and can involve a wide variety of resistant or emergent organisms. Surgical site infections make up approximately one-fifth of HCAIs, and at least 5% of patients undergoing open surgery develop an SSI. Surgical site infections are probably the most preventable HCAI but have received the least attention; although that is changing with increased surveillance and public awareness of published data of individual specialty and hospital incidence rates. Surgical site infection continues to be a complication of surgical care. These infections span a continuum of severity with some being quite innocent and easy to manage, while others are life-threatening. Considerable evidence provides direction in the prevention of SSI (eg, systemic antibiotic prophylaxis) but many preventive strategies need better definition, with additional clinical studies. When SSI occurs, the clinician needs to quickly recognize it and tailor management to the specific needs of the patient. In general, drainage, debridement, and specific antibiotics for the putative pathogen are the hallmarks of management.