A prospective randomized controlled trial comparing open and percutaneous repair of closed ruptured Achilles tendons was performed over a period of 30 months. Sixty-six patients from seven district general hospitals were entered into the study with 33 patients randomized into each group. A modification of the technique described by Ma and Griffith was used in the percutaneous group and a Kessler suture supplemented with interrupted sutures was used in the open group. Patients were followed up for a minimum of six months. The mean age was 38.5 years (26 to 53 years). Forty patients were male and 26 female. After the rupturing event but prior to surgery, it was noted that seven patients had paresthesia in the territory of the sural nerve. The mean duration of immobilization was 12.4 weeks (10 to 14). The complications in the open group included seven wound infections (21%), two adhesions (6%) and two cases of re-rupture (6%). In the percutaneous group there were three cases of wound puckering (9%), one re-rupture (3%) and one case with persistent paresthesia in the sural nerve territory (3%). The difference in infective wound complications between the two groups was statistically significant (Fisher's exact test P = 0.01). Percutaneous repair is advocated on the basis of the low rate of complications and improved cosmetic appearance.