OBJECTIVES: To pilot the acceptability and feasibility of clinical audit in free and pedicled flap reconstruction. To establish a baseline flap failure rate in participating units, so that a sample size calculation could be performed for future national audit. METHODS: A proforma was piloted over a 3-month period in four participating units, during which time data on 93 reconstructive procedures involving free and pedicled flaps was collected. The patients included those where large transfers of tissue were required such as for coverage of grade IIIb compound tibial fractures and breast reconstruction after mastectomy, and also smaller flap transfers such as after skin cancer excision. RESULTS: The proforma was found to be acceptable to clinicians and the feasibility of the data collection process was established. Overall there was a total flap survival of 89% and secondary operations to the donor or recipient sites were required in 11% of patients. CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates the feasibility of comparative audit for free and pedicled flap procedures using the methods proposed. Based on the incidence of flap failure observed in this pilot study, at least 18 months of prospective data collection on consecutive patients is required to fulfil the statistical requirements of comparative audit. The establishment of a routinely collected minimum dataset is proposed as one means of meeting these requirements.