Statement of problem. The gold screw of an implant is put under tension during fastening. An increase in operator-induced compressive axial force during fastening may diminish screw tension, lower the friction between the screw threads, and allow for increased tightening torque. Purpose. This study was undertaken to assess and compare the compressive axial forces and torques placed simultaneously on implant gold screws by persons with varying degrees of expertise. Material and methods. A calibrated electric torque driver was used to fasten implant gold screws. Three groups of operators with various levels of implant experience (faculty [F; n = 4 ], prosthodontic residents [R; n = 4], and undergraduate dental students [S; n = 6]) were asked to repeatedly tighten and loosen a new gold abutment screw into a standard 3.75-mm diameter Brånemark abutment. Compressive axial forces during torquing were assessed over the tightening time by means of a miniature load cell adapted to the electric torque driver. Each operator repeated the experiment 3 times after calibration. Within operator and between operator reliability were evaluated. Results. Loosening compressive axial forces were always higher than tightening compressive axial forces, and peak torque was less on loosening than tightening. Faculty placed a smaller range of forces on the screws (mean = 3.29 N, SD ± 1.45 N) than did the residents (mean = 2.74 N, SD ± 1.96) or the students (mean = 3.01 N, SD ± 2.54). Conclusion, The clinical experience of operators seems to influence their application of compressive axial force during gold screw tightening. Less torque during unfastening of gold screws seems to be related to increased axial loading. (J Prosthet Dent 2001;86:15-9.).