To perform safe and effective animal surgery, it is essential to follow a well- disciplined approach. We recently have embarked on a variety of wound-healing studies that involve multiple operative techniques including thoracotomy with lobectomy. Such procedures require specific attention to effective anesthesia and ventilation as well as a structured and safe approach to the actual procedure. We have developed operative techniques for thoracotomy and pulmonary lobectomy that limit animal morbidity and mortality. Using general anesthesia, we safely and effectively completed right thoracotomy and pulmonary lobectomy in 51 of the 54 (>94%) of the Sprague-Dawley rats that were our subjects. We effectively ventilated the animals with inhalation anesthesia, avoiding the need for endotracheal intubation. The three mortalities occurred during early experiments and were attributable to easily identified technical errors. Our animals did not experience postoperative respiratory complications. Postoperative recovery was excellent, and no appreciable postoperative morbidity was encountered.