Postoperative soft tissue infection may predispose to failure of open lacrimal surgical procedures. Using a retrospective analysis of 413 cases, the failure rates for primary and repeat surgery were 12.0% and 8.9% respectively (0.25 < p < 0.5). Postoperative soft tissue infection is associated with an increased risk of failure (p < 0.005); antibiotics decrease the rate of postoperative infection and may thus decrease the failure rate. Furthermore, antibiotic therapy decreases the rate of failure in cases after previous facial trauma. Curative antibiotic therapy for established postoperative infection is less effective than preventative therapy at improving the success rate after surgery. Previous trauma is also associated with a greater rate of failure (p < 0.02), possibly owing to the frequent canalicular problems in such patients. Silicone tubes appear to increase neither the rate of infection nor failure (p > 0.5). Trauma, acute dacryocystitis, and silicone tubes appear to act on outcome independently of each other.