The surgical drape, also called surgical cover or surgical cloth, serves to delimit the surgical field, and cover the remaining areas of the body during surgical interventions. The use of sterile drapes during surgical interventions not only prevents the spread of germs into the surgical area, but also prevents contamination of other areas of the body by germs from the surgical wound.

Surgical drapes are fabricated from either multiple or single-use materials. Reusable materials are typically composed of different tightly-woven textiles or knitted cotton, or other fabrics possibly blended with polyester and chemically treated. These products have to be durable and provide protection after many cycles of processing and treatment. Disposable surgical drapes are typically composed of non-woven materials of synthetic or natural origin, possibly combined with chemical treatment.

Sterile surgical drapes are used during surgery to isolate the operation site from the patient's body and the non sterile area of the operating table, and to maintain the sterility of environmental surfaces, equipment and the patients surroundings. They reduce the risk of surgical site infections (SSI). Optimising their barrier function can help to prevent microbial contamination and to improve patients safety.