It is important that any devitalized tissue is removed from a wound as soon as possible. For most patients, the presence of non-viable tissue is distressing as it can produce a noxious odour and frequently an unacceptable discharge. The devitalized tissue provides a suitable culture medium for bacterial growth, and wounds containing necrotic tissue are therefore at risk of becoming clinically infected. Various methods of both conventional and unconventional removal of non-viable tissue are discussed briefly. However, this article is mainly concerned with the removal of devitalized tissue using sharp instruments. It focuses on the implications of this procedure for nurses who take on this responsibility. Sharp debridement of devitalized tissue has traditionally been an acceptable procedure for medical staff to perform. This article discusses the practical requirements and theoretical knowledge that are necessary for the procedure to be performed successfully. It proposes that, in the patient's best interest, the experienced and competent nurse may be the most suitable practitioner to perform this activity.