Thirty two cases of endophthalmitis following extracapsular cataract surgery that had occurred within our department and had undergone intraocular diagnostic tap between May 1982 and May 1991 were reviewed. An infectious agent was identified in 20 cases (62.5%). The commonest organism was Staphylococcus epidermidis (11 cases) (55%). Proteus was the only gram negative organism identified (four cases) (20%). Both of these organisms were associated with a favourable visual outcome. In the culture positive subgroup 15 eyes (75%) achieved a final acuity of 6/60 or better with 10 eyes (50%) gaining 6/12 or better. Thirteen (65%) of the culture positive cases were managed without vitreal intervention. Of these 11 (85%) achieved 6/60 or better with eight (62%) gaining 6/12 or better. It appears that when an endophthalmitis follows uncomplicated extracapsular cataract surgery delivery of antibiotic by the 'conventional' routes (topical, subconjunctival and systemic) is consistent with a favourable visual result in many cases. A modified anterior chamber diagnostic tap technique is described.