The outcomes for 2005 consecutive patients aged 50 years or over admitted to two orthopaedic centres with a hip fracture were prospectively studied. All the patients were followed up to 1 year from injury. The mean orthopaedic ward stay was shorter in Edinburgh in comparison to Peterborough (20 versus 10 days), but the total hospital stay was shorter in Peterborough (34 versus 22 days). In Peterborough twice as many patients were discharged directly back from the orthopaedic ward to their place or origin (82 versus 41%). At 1 year from injury 34% of the patients had died. Factors associated with an increased mortality were increased age, male sex, pre-fracture place of residence and impaired mobility. For the survivors, the patients from Edinburgh had an increased mortality but were older, more likely to have impaired mobility and to come from more dependent residential accommodation. The different mortality between centres (30 versus 36%) was not statistically significant when adjusted for the possible confounding factors.