Background: A 1998 survey of acute Victorian public hospitals (VPH) revealed that surveillance of hospital-acquired infections (HAI) was underdeveloped, definitions and methodology varied considerably, and results disseminated inconsistently. The survey identified the need for an effective surveillance system for HAI. Objective: To develop and support a standardized surveillance program for HAIs in large acute VPH and to provide risk-adjusted, procedure-specific, HAI rates. Methods: In 2002, the independent Victorian Nosocomial Infection Surveillance System (VICNISS) Coordinating Centre (VCC) was established to develop and support the standardized surveillance program. A multidisciplinary team was recruited. A communication strategy, surveillance manual, user groups, and Web site were developed. Formal education sessions were provided to participating infection control nurse consultants (ICCs). Surveillance activities were based on the US Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention's National Nosocomial Infection Surveillance System (NNIS) surgical site infection and intensive care unit (ICU) components. NNIS methods were modified to suit local needs. Data collection was paper based or through existing hospital software. An advisory committee of key stakeholders met every second month. Results: The surveillance program was rolled out over 12 months to all 28 large adult VPH. Data on over 20,000 surgical procedures performed at participating sites between November 11, 2002, and December 31, 2004, were submitted. Thirteen hospitals contributed to the ICU surveillance activities. Following aggregation and analysis by the VCC, hospital- and state-level results were posted on the Web page for hospitals to review. Conclusion: A standardized approach for surveillance of HAI was established in a short time frame in over 28 VPH. VICNISS is a tool that will continue to provide participating hospitals with a basis for continuous quality improvement.