A bipolar electrosurgical scalpel comprising a handle having a pair of loop electrodes extending outwardly from the distal end thereof in parallel, spaced relation, such that the spacing defines a dielectric such as an air gap therebetween. When a RF voltage of a predetermined amplitude is applied across the two electrodes and they are drawn across tissue, cutting occurs by virtue of the arc established between the two electrodes. The electrodes may be formed from tungsten wire to withstand high operating temperatures and are sufficiently rigid to withstand the pressure forces encountered during electrosurgery without shorting together across the gap. The electrodes may be formed in various shapes, depending upon the nature of the cutting desired. Possible configurations include open rounded loops, open elongated loops, open triangular-shaped loops, L- or J-shaped hooks. The supporting conductors to which these electrodes are affixed may be straight tubular legs or curved hooks formed from flattened lengths of metal tubing. The loop electrodes may also be ultrasonically vibrated and/or fluid flushed to enhance removal of char and tissue debris during use. To enhance coagulation properties, metal surface electrodes of relatively large area may be embedded in an insulating end cap of the scalpel and the loop cutting electrodes are designed to be retracted therein such that only the surface electrodes are exposed. The instrument is controlled by either a hand switch or a standard surgical foot switch.