International surgical meetings with thousands of participants speaking a dozen different languages tend to be frustrating for the individual who comes with the hope of learning about progress in his fields, but who additionally would like to be able to ex change ideas on controversial topics and to meet competent people with whom to discuss specific problems. In the "one-way" ses sions in which long papers are presented, details or specific points may be missed. Differing views often are not adequately discussed, because the meeting and its participants are pressed for time. The 44 breakfast and luncheon sessions, covering different topics of interest to the practicing surgeon, were mainly planned to overcome these classical "congress handicaps" and also to do away with the anonymous atmosphere of such a large congress. Slides and formal papers were banished from these sessions. The outcome of these very lively and pleasant discussions taking place around small well-dressed tables was unexpected by most participants. A chairman and several panel members shared their repast, caloric and intellectual, with some 10-30 congress par ticipants. The result was in each instance a lively, informative intimate discussion, very different from the anonymous atmo sphere of a large meeting. In the hope of preserving these ex changes, the chairmen were requested immediately the session finished to "distill the essence" of the 90-minute exchange into a summary captured on tape.