The radiofrequency-stimulated argon gas plasma (glow discharge) technique, already well-known for surface cleaning and activation of adhesion, was investigated for determination of its separate potential for rapid disinfection of dental operative instruments. Disinfection effectiveness was judged from diminished post-treatment recovery of viable organisms from the instruments agitated in saline. Streptococcus salivarius, Bacillus stearothermophilus, and Escherichia coli were used as primary contaminant organisms, dried from gelatin-thickened laboratory cultures onto the instruments and not subjected to any preliminary cleaning steps. Significant disinfection was obtained, with no sensible temperature increases, in under 10 minutes in laboratory apparatus consuming fewer than 5 Watts of power per cycle. Also, clinically used and deliberately-saliva-contaminated high-speed handpieces were gas-discharge-treated, with their resultant rapid disinfection noted by complete suppression of the viability of any transferred natural contaminant organisms within two minutes. With regard to preservation of instrument quality, it was also shown that this low-temperature gas-discharge method provides the noted substantial disinfection without deterioration of sharp edges. Work now in progress suggests that the method can provide cool, rapid, and complete sterilization when hydrogen peroxide vapors are present in the gas plasma used for treatment of instruments first given the normally recommended thorough pre-cleaning.