Publication in a peer-reviewed journal is the ultimate lasting acknowledgment of an author's research results. Numerous clinical and basic-science papers are presented at the Annual Meeting of The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, but not all of these presentations culminate in publication in a peer-reviewed journal. In an effort to determine the percentages and patterns of publication, every presentation from the 1990, 1991, and 1992 meetings (a total of 1465 presentations) was reviewed with use of a Melvyl Medline Plus computer search during the summer of 1996. The presentations were classified on the basis of subspecialty.The over-all rate of publication by August 1996 was 46 per cent (668 of 1465), and the rates were similar for the 1990, 1991, and 1992 meetings. The average time to publication was twenty months, and most publications appeared within three years after presentation, with a plateau thereafter. Basic-science presentations had the highest rate of publication: 64 per cent (eighteen of twenty-eight presentations). The rates of publication by clinical subspecialty ranged from 39 per cent (twenty-eight of seventy-two presentations in the hand subspecialty and eighty-two of 210 presentations in the trauma subspecialty) to 53 per cent (110 of 206 presentations in the spine subspecialty). There was no significant difference among these groups (p = 0.611, chi-square test). The American volume of The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery published the most papers (24 per cent; 161 of the 668 publications), followed by Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research (16 per cent; 106 of 668). The over-all rate of publication of presentations at the Annual Meeting of The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is comparable with reported rates in other medical specialties.