We have carried out a prospective, longitudinal 30-year review of 95 adolescents who underwent total meniscectomy in one knee, and have compared the results with those observed 13 years earlier. All the medical records were scrutinised. Of the 63 patients reviewed clinically, 47 reported decreased sporting activity, although subjective satisfaction rose by 3% to 71%. The scores on the WOMAC osteoarthritis index differed significantly between patients grouped by subjective global assessment. Satisfactory function scores increased from 48% to 60%. In the 53 patients consenting to bilateral radiography of the knee, the incidence of narrowing of the articular cartilage in the operated knee increased significantly between the reviews (19% to 36%). Progression of degenerative change paralleled reduction in activity. Outcome measures were best after medial, intermediate after lateral and worst after double meniscectomy.