• We conducted a randomized study to evaluate the effect of gowning by visitors and hospital personnel on a postpartum ward on nose and umbilical colonization and disease in healthy newborn infants. Cultures were obtained in infants assigned to the gowning and nongowning groups within 6 hours of birth from the anterior part of the nares and the base of the umbilicus and at the time of discharge from the nursery. There were 102 infants in the gowning group and 100 infants in the nongowning group. No significant differences were noted between the two groups with respect to sex, length of stay, mode of delivery, weight, or status of nursery admission culture results. The use of gowns on a postpartum ward failed to decrease nose or umbilical colonization when compared with infants in the nongowning group. Seventy (68.6%) of 102 infants in the gowning group and 65 (65%) of 100 infants in the nongowning group had negative umbilical cord cultures on admission to the nursery that became positive at discharge. On followup, no differences were noted between the two groups with respect to their health. Only one infant in each group had an infection develop in the first 4 weeks of life. We conclude that the routine use of cover gowns on postpartum units in healthy full-term infants is ineffective and costly. It may discourage health care providers from examining patients and providing care.