Needle recapping has been shown to be one of the leading causes of needlestick injuries. Frequency of recapping has not been reported. This study was designed to determine the frequency of needle recapping by nursing personnel and the effect of bedside needle disposal units on the frequency of recapping and needlesticks. Seventy-four nurses carrying out 312 activities involving use of needles were observed. The subjects were not aware of the nature of the study. The recapping frequency was 93.9%. The study was repeated after educational programs and following installation of a hospital-wide bedside needle disposal system. Fifty-three nurses performing 151 activities with needles were observed. Frequency of recapping was 94%. There was no significant difference in the rate of recapping or needlestick injuries after installation of the new needle disposal system. Educational programs regarding recapping, a very common practice, may be ineffective. Alternate methods for preventing nee-dlesticks may be necessary.