This paper highlights the uses of population-based linkage of administrative health records to improve the quality, safety, and equity of surgical care. The primary focus of the paper is on the transfer of this type of research into policy and practice. In the modem era of evidence-based medicine, it is essential that not only is new evidence incorporated into clinical practice, but that the implementation and associated costs are monitored; this requires the setting of appropriate benchmarking criteria. Furthermore, it is imperative that all members of the population receive optimal health care and people are not discriminated against because of socio-economic, locational, or racial factors. The use of data linkage can assist with examining these aspects of health care and this paper provides real-fife examples such as costs and adverse events from laparoscopic cholecystectomy, event monitoring for post-operative venous thrombosis, and inequafities in cancer care. The influence of these studies on clinical practice and policy is also discussed. Furthermore, this paper discusses the strengths and weaknesses of data linkage research and how to avoid pitfalls. Health researchers, clinicians, and policy-makers will find the discussion of these issues useful in their everyday practice.