OBJECTIVE To investigate the feasibility and safety of early dressing removal of clean wounds following thoracotomy. SUBJECTS AND METHODS A total of 230 patients (127 males, mean age 55.6 ± 16.7 years) were randomly divided into study and control groups. In the study group the cotton gauze dressing was removed 48 h after the surgery, whereas in the control group the dressing was kept on for 7-8 days until the removal of skin sutures. The infection and healing of the wounds were examined, and patients were followed up for 30 days. RESULTS There was no statistically significant difference in age, sex, smoking rates, concurrent illnesses and operational characteristics between the study and control groups (p > 0.05). The wound infection rate in the study and control groups was 6 (5.2%) and 7 patients (6.1%), respectively (p = 0.775). Two patients (1.7%) from the study group and 1 (0.9%, p = 0.561) from the control group had partial wound approximation by day 7. Surrounding skin integrity was normal in 106 (92.2%) of the study group and 107 (93.0%) of the control group patients by postoperative day 7 (p = 0.801). CONCLUSION Removal of wound dressing 48 h after thoracic surgery was not associated with an increased risk of surgical site infection. Hence the early removal of wound dressing did not appear to have an adverse impact on wound healing.