Accurate collection and successful management of data are problems common to all scientific studies. For studies in which large quantities of data are collected by means of questionnaires and/or forms, data base management becomes quite laborious and time consuming. Data base management comprises data collection, data entry, data editing, and data base maintenance. In this article, the authors describe the development of an interactive data base management (IDM) system for the collection of more than 1,400 variables from a targeted population of 6,000 patients undergoing heart surgery requiring cardiopulmonary bypass. The goals of the IDM system are to increase the accuracy and efficiency with which this large amount of data is collected and processed, to reduce research nurse work load through automation of certain administrative and clerical activities, and to improve the process for implementing a uniform study protocol, standardized forms, and definitions across sites.