The feasibility of computer translation of scientific and medical documents is controversial. The authors describe a minicomputer-based translation system (TRANSOFT) that uses word-order rearrangement followed by word-for-word translation and resolution of ambiguities based on context. This translation system was applied to an entire medical textbook written in German and to short medical texts written in Spanish, Turkish, Hungarian, and Romanized Japanese. Results suggest the versatility of TRANSOFT for narrowly defined translation problems. As foreign language medical documents and medical records become increasingly available in computer-readable form through word processing, computerized typesetting, and hospital information system, computer translation methods may provide a rapid and inexpensive means of obtaining draft translations.