This is the first of a series of articles that discusses the pertinent issues involved in caring for patients undergoing surgery who belong to special papulations. Octogenarians have higher mortality, more comorbidities, and special needs regarding convalescence. Patients with neuropsychiatric disorders may have exacerbations of their mental illness after surgery and require special care and patience by the nurse. Survival after cardiac surgery is similar in black and white palients, but the number of blacks having cardiac surgery is significantly and proportionately lower than whites, suggesting either a referral bias or a problem with access to care. Subsequent articles discuss cardiac surgery in women, during pregnancy, in Jehovah’s Witnesses, and in patients with Down’s Syndrome.