PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to compare three methods of hernioplasty: the Bassini, Lichtenstein and mesh- plug repair, and to ascertain the usefulness of mesh- plug repair. METHODS: Patients with primary a unilateral inguinal hernia who underwent Bassini (n=41), Lichtenstein (n=41) or a mesh-plug repair (n=40) between January 2000 and December 2002 were retrospectively reviewed. The clinical features analyzed were age, gender, operation time, use of postoperative analgesics, and length of hospital stay, complications, and recurrence. RESULTS: The operation times were (mean+/-SD) 57.3+/-5.4, 65.9+/-5.7 and 53.2+/-5.4 min for the Bassini (BR), Lichtenstein (LR), and mesh-plug repair groups (MR), respectively (P<0.001). The average number of analgesics used after the operations were 8.1+/-1.7, 4.9+/-1.3 and 2.8+/-0.8 in the BR, LR and MR groups, respectively (P<0.001). The lengths of hospital stay were 6.3+/-2.2, 4.4+/-0.7 and 3.7+/-0.8 days in the BR, LR and MR groups, respectively (P<0.001). There were three and two postoperative hematomas and two and one wound infections in the BR and LR groups, respectively but no postoperative complications in the MR groups. Two patients in the BR group had a recurrence, but there were no recurrences in the LR and MR groups. CONCLUSION: The mesh-plug repair is superior to the Bassini and Lichtenstein repairs in terms of operation time, postoperative pain and length of hospital stay. However, there were no significant differences between the groups in terms of postoperative complications and recurrences.