The present randomized study was undertaken in order to compare the short-term results between total laparoscopic hysterectomy and abdominal hysterectomy in a centre with experience in laparoscopic surgery. From January 1997 to September 1998 inclusive, 102 women aged 44-71 years were randomly assigned to either total laparoscopic hysterectomy (n = 51 patients) or abdominal hysterectomy (n = 51 patients). The patients' demographic characteristics were similar in both groups. Average intra-operative blood loss was lower in laparoscopic hysterectomy than in abdominal hysterectomy (P </= 0. 001). The average time employed for laparoscopic hysterectomy was 104.1 +/- 26.98 min; according to the learning curve experienced in this study, the range was 72-163 min and the results after the plateau was reached showed no statistical difference between laparoscopic and abdominal operating times. The mean length of hospital stay was 2.38 +/- 0.30 days in the laparoscopic hysterectomy group versus 6.23 +/- 1.85 days in the abdominal hysterectomy group (P </= 0.001). In conclusion, this study shows that total laparoscopic hysterectomy can be effectively performed within reasonable time limits, provided that operators are experienced surgeons in operative laparoscopy and that operating times are comparable with those of abdominal hysterectomy.