Construction of applications using the World Wide Web architecture and Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) documents is relatively simple. We are exploring this approach with an application, called PolyMed now in use by surgical residents for one year. We monitored use and obtained user feedback to develop new features and eliminate undesirable ones. The system has been used to keep track of over 4,200 patients. We predicted, several advantages and disadvantages to this approach to prototyping clinical applications. Our experience confirms some advantages (ease of development and customization, ability to exploit non-Web system components, and simplified user interface design) and disadvantages (lack of database management services). Some predicted disadvantages failed to materialize (difficulty modeling a clinical application with hypertext and inconveniences associated with the "connectionless" nature of the Web). We were disappointed to find that while integration of external Web applications (such as Medline) into our application was easy, our users did not find it useful.