We examined the latex surgical gloves used by 56 primary surgeons in 454 ophthalmic surgical procedures performed over a 7-month period. Of five techniques used to detect pinholes, air inflation with water submersion and compression was found to be the most sensitive, yielding a 6.80% prevalence in control glove pairs and a 21.8% prevalence in postoperative study glove pairs, for a 15.0% incidence of surgically induced perforations (P = 0.000459). The lowest postoperative perforation rate was 11.4% for cataract and intraocular lens surgery, and the highest was 41.7% for oculoplastic procedures. Factors that correlated significantly with the presence of glove perforations as determined by multiple logistic regression analysis were oculoplastic and pediatric ophthalmology and strabismus surgical procedures, surgeon's status as a fellow in training, operating time, and glove size. The thumb and index finger of the nondominant hand contained the largest numbers of pinholes. These data suggest strategies for reducing the risk of cross-infection during ophthalmic surgery.