BACKGROUND: Efficient and meaningful evaluation of performance is critical to the professional development of trainees in surgical residency programs. Current paper-based evaluation instruments have numerous limitations. We developed an Internet-based evaluation system to more rapidly and efficiently assess the experience of residents, faculty, and rotations. STUDY DESIGN: An on-line evaluation system was designed and implemented in October 1999. Custom evaluations were created for residents, faculty, and rotations. Evaluations were completed via the Internet site from remote locations with standard computers and standard Web browser software. Completed evaluations were automatically available on-line for review and data analysis. Data were analyzed by chi-square analysis with a probability value of less than 0.05 considered statistically significant. RESULTS: Compliance in completion of evaluations improved from 50% to 80% in the initial 6 months of implementation (p < 0.01) with the Web-based system. There was no significant difference between faculty and resident compliance. In evaluation of "ease of use," a total of 612 responses were received over this period with a total average score of 3.5 (5 point scale, 5 = strongly agree). Residents' opinions (average score, 3.69) were slightly more positive than those of faculty (average score, 3.31). Confidentiality was improved over paper-based systems by a detailed security network. CONCLUSIONS: This Internet-based evaluation system is a potentially powerful instrument for evaluating our surgical residency program and making changes to improve the educational experience in a timely and efficient manner.