A surgical instrument for applying sutures including an elongated housing having a proximal end and a distal end, means associated with the distal end of the elongated housing for carrying at least one needle, the needle carrier means being movable between a retracted position and an extended position, at least one needle positioned on the needle carrier means, and means associated with the needle carrier means for moving the needle carrier means to the extended position to deploy the at least one needle such that upon movement of the needle carrier means by the moving means, the needle carrier moves from the retracted position to the extended position whereby the at least one needle is caused to travel through a tissue engaging path in one continuous motion. Another embodiment of the surgical instrument of the present invention for applying sutures includes an elongated housing having a proximal end and a distal end and means associated with the distal end of the elongated housing, for carrying and deploying at least two needles at a predetermined distance from each other, the carrying and deploying means being rotatable out of a first plane corresponding to a retracted position and into a second plane corresponding to an extended position while maintaining the at least two needles at the predetermined distance from each other. The instrument preferably further includes at least one needle retaining means associated with the elongated housing for receiving and retaining the at least two needles. The needle retaining means may include a pair of needle receiving pockets disposed within the elongated housing. The needle receiving pockets may be filled with a compliant material or a latch mechanism.