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To compare the antibacterial efficacy of different surgical hand antisepsis protocols used by veterinary students.Prospective, randomized, controlled study.Third year veterinary students (n=45).The participants were randomly assigned to 4 of the following 12 hand preparation product/time combinations: nonabrasive hand scrub method with 4% chlorhexidine gluconate (CH); hand rub with a mixture of 30% 1-propanol and 45% 2-propanol solution (MPS), 70% 2-propanol solution (IPS), or 61% ethanol solution with 1% chlorhexidine gluconate (ES/CH), with a contact time of 1.5, 3, or 5 minutes. Antibacterial efficacy was assessed after surgical hand preparation and at the end of surgery. Log reductions of total bacterial colony forming unit (CFU)/mL and positive aerobic culture rates were compared using multivariable analysis of variance and multivariable logistic regression, respectively.After surgical hand preparation, CH and ES/CH provided significantly higher log CFU reduction and lower positive culture rate for Gram-positive and spore-forming bacteria compared to MPS and IPS. Increase in contact time did not provide significant improvement in bacterial reduction. At the end of surgery, ES/CH provided significantly higher log CFU reduction compared to IPS and lower positive culture rate for Gram-positive bacteria compared to CH, MPS, and IPS. Increase in contact time significantly improved log CFU reduction in ES/CH and MPS groups.In our population of veterinary students ES/CH hand rubs or CH scrubs were more effective in reducing bacterial CFU during surgical hand preparation than MPS or IPS.