Recent trends in medical care have resulted in increasing numbers of patients being cared for in the home health setting. The annual growth rate for home care is projected to be between 12% and 20%, at least through 1990. Many patients who would formerly have stayed in the hospital are now being discharged to home care. This trend has been prompted and driven by cost considerations, but other factors, such as new approaches to the care of dying patients, have also played a role. Many patients cared for at home may have communicable diseases, multiple invasive devices or an immunocompromising condition. The patient, family members and the home health professional (HHP) all may be at risk for developing or transmitting infection, although the actual risk has not been determined. Thus, there is a need for prevention and control of home-acquired infections.