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Harold Neuhof was one of the pioneers of thoracic surgery in the early decades of the last century. Inspired by his preceptor Howard Lilienthal he proposed an entirely new concept for surgery on acute lung abscess. The aim of his one-stage procedure was adequate drainage of the abscess cavity. His approach proved to be the first major breakthrough in the treatment of acute lung abscess. Therapy of pulmonary abscess was again radically changed by the advent of antibiotics in the late 1940s. However, the basic principles of Neuhof's concept still influence modern-day management of putrid lung abscess.