Physicians are increasingly informed of promising new treatments for severe illnesses through unconventional communications such as press releases, press conferences, and direct mailings. These highly publicized announcements disseminate information quickly, often many months before new data are presented at medical meetings or published in peer-reviewed medical journals. Such unconventional communications, however, usually do not provide sufficient detail for physicians to evaluate new studies, answer patients' questions, or make recommendations. We suggest that physicians would be better informed about therapeutic advances through (1) expanded information in unconventional communications, (2) increased availability of information from the Food and Drug Administration, (3) early submission and accelerated review of key medical journal articles, and (4) expanded use of on-line computerized information sources. A commitment to inform physicians better about promising new treatments may help save or prolong the lives of patients with severe illnesses.