Large series of laparoscopic ventral hernia repair have shown excellent results. However, published comparative studies have had conflicting outcomes. We retrospectively reviewed the first 29 laparoscopic ventral hernia repairs performed at a VA Medical Center from January 2000 to June 2001. The outcome was compared to that of open repairs performed during the same time period. Outcomes between the groups were similar in all respects, except for the length of stay. The conversion rate for the laparoscopic approach was 13.8%. There was one death in the laparoscopic group due to an unrecognized enterotomy. There were three recurrences in the open group and one in the laparoscopic group with a mean follow up of 13 months. In our series, laparoscopic hernia repair resulted in a shorter hospital stay but no other significant benefits, along with a risk of missed enterotomy. The risk-benefit ratio for this procedure may be high during the learning curve.