Background: The role of surveillance bronchoscopy in the care of lung transplant recipients remains controversial. Although there are no controlled studies to suggest a survival advantage, many transplant physicians support the practice. The procedure is generally safe but is associated with some complications. A review of practices at our institution revealed significant variation in patient preparation, management of risk related to the procedure, and in the technical aspects of the bronchoscopy itself. In an effort to minimize these differences and potentially improve outcomes, a standard set of procedural guidelines for all bronchoscopies was adopted in January 2000. Methods: Reports from 1,028 surveillance bronchoscopies performed in our outpatient facility from January 1999 to December 2001 were reviewed. Baseline patient data and procedure-related complications were identified. Specific complications recorded included oversedation, the need for prolonged supplemental oxygen, major and minor bleeding, pneumothorax, bronchospasm, vomiting, arrhythmia, hypotension and death. Differences between groups were analyzed using chi-square or Student's t-tests as appropriate. Results: The incidence of complications after the introduction of the guidelines (2000 and 2001) was significantly lower than in the year prior (1999) (1.95% vs 6.45%, p < 0.001). The lower rate of adverse events was mainly a result of a reduction in the incidence of minor bleeding (0.28% vs 2.26% p = 0.006) and of sedation-related complications (0.97% vs 2.90%, p = 0.04). Conclusions: The use of a standardized set of guidelines for surveillance fiber-optic bronchoscopy reduces complication rates. Similar guidelines should be considered by transplant centers performing the procedure.