OBJECTIVE: The laparoscopic appendectomy was developed as an alternative procedure to be used in acute appendicitis. Some surgeons dispute the advantages of laparoscopic procedures for acute appendicitis. Specifically, there are many controversies associated with perforated appendicitis. We reviewed the results of appendectomies to assess the feasibility of a laparoscopic appendectomy in acute appendicitis that included perforated appendicitis. METHODS: Three hundred thirty-nine consecutive patients with laparoscopic appendectomies, which include 27 patients with perforated appendicitis, were analysed. This study considered the lengths of the operation and the hospital stay. Differences in complications between non-perforated and perforated appendicitis were also evaluated. RESULTS: A total of 388 patients underwent appendectomies, 339 patients with laparoscopy and 49 patients with conventional open appendectomies, from April 1994 to June 1996. The mean duration of laparoscopic appendectomies was 48.9 minutes. This was slightly longer than that of open appendec tomies (44.9 minutes) in the same hospital. The duration of hospital stay was on the average of 4.9 days. Six patients (1.8%) were converted to conventional surgery because of difficult mobilization in 4 patients and uncontrollable bleeding in the remaining two. The surgeries on patients who were converted to conventional surgery were performed by rotating residents without staff supervision. Minor complications developed in eight patients (2.4%). In comparing the results between non-perforated and perforated appendicitis, durations of operation (47.3 vs. 78.3 minutes) and the hospital stay (4.6 vs. 8.6 days) were longer in perforated appendicitis. However, the complication rate (2.6 vs. 0%) was unexpectedly found to be lower in perforated appendicitis. CONCLUSIONS: The laparoscopic appendectomy is a safe, feasible procedure for acute appendicitis. It is an excellent procedure for perforated appendicitis and has minor complications compared to an open appendectomy with its large incision that is followed by a high rate of wound infection and/or post operative adhesion. There aree various reports on prospective randomized studies evaluating the benefits of a laparoscopic appendectomy compared to a conventional open appendectomy. The reports by laparo scopic surgeons in various centers are different with regard to operative time, postoperative recovery, morbidity, and postoperative complications. For complicated appendicitis, most surgeons are not in agree ment with the laparoscopic approach. We obtained excellent results with laparoscopic appendectomies in perforated appendicitis which included periappendiceal abscesses.