In 1985 there were 288 applicants for the ten postgraduate Year 1 orthopedic residency positions in Galveston and San Antonio, of which 119 (41%) applicants successfully obtained a residency position in one of 76 orthopedic programs approved by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. Successful applicants were younger and had higher Medical College Admissions Test scores, National Board of Medical Examiners, Part I (NBME-I) scores, and medical school grade point averages than unsuccessful applicants. Variables that increased acceptance rates were medical student status, an NBME-I score above 500, class rank in the top 40%, and membership in Alpha Omega Alpha honor society. Foreign citizenship and prior residency experience in a different specialty strongly decreased acceptance rates. Variables that did not affect acceptance rates were: gender, military experience, marital status, graduate degree, research, publications, or NBME-II scores.