We compared class I surgical-site infection (SSI) rates for new and experienced surgeons. Data showed that new surgeons in two surgical subspecialties associated with higher baseline SSI rates had rates higher than their experienced colleagues. They took longer in the operating room (OR), but did not operate on sicker patients. As the surgeons gained more experience (as measured by cumulative cases), their OR times and SSI rates decreased toward their colleagues'. New surgeons who perform infection-prone surgery may have higher SSI rates than more experienced colleagues until they gain experience. A new surgeon's SSI rate could be one factor considered in assessing competence.