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In 2010 a care bundle was introduced by the Department of Health (DH) to reduce surgical site infections (SSIs) in England. To date, use of the care bundle has not been evaluated despite incorporating interventions with resource implications. The aim of this study was to evaluate the DH SSI care bundle in open colorectal surgery.A prospective cohort design was used at two teaching hospitals in England. The baseline group consisted of 127 consecutive patients having colorectal surgery during a 6-month period while the intervention group comprised 166 patients in the subsequent 6 months. SSI and care bundle compliance data were collected using dedicated surveillance staff.Just under a quarter (24%) of the patients in the baseline group developed a SSI compared with just over a quarter (28%) in the care bundle group (p>0.05). However, compliance rates with individual interventions, both before and after the implementation of the bundle, were similar. Interestingly, in only 19% of cases was there compliance with the total care bundle. The single intervention that showed an associated reduction in SSI was preoperative warming (p=0.032).The DH care bundle did not reduce SSIs after open colorectal surgery. Despite this, it is not possible to state that the bundle is ineffective as compliance rates before and after bundle implementation were similar. All studies evaluating the effectiveness of care bundles must include data for compliance with interventions both before and after implementation of the care bundle; poor compliance may be one of the reasons for the lower than expected reduction of SSIs.