The aim of this paper was to assess if there is a standard technique for the repair of inguinal herniae in children and to establish if the inguinal canal should be routinely opened during this procedure in different age groups. A postal survey was conducted by sending questionnaires to 264 consultant surgeons who were surgical tutors or advisors to the Royal College of Surgeons of England. Information was sought using a multiple-choice tick-box questionnaire. The surgical techniques of surgeons working in specialist units were compared with those working in general units, and comparisons were also drawn between surgeons performing more operations than those doing only a few and also if the technique varied with the age of the patient. The response rate was 69%. Only 23% working in specialist units and 8% from general units performed more than 30 herniotomies per year. Overall, 15% of surgeons always performed the operation through the inguinal canal, 56% performed it superficial to the external ring, and 29% tended to do both. In children under the age of 2 years, most surgeons performed the operation superficial to the external ring, although a higher proportion of surgeons at specialist units opened the inguinal canal routinely. In the older age groups, the tendency to open the inguinal canal and/or divide the external ring was greater. However, surgeons at specialist paediatric units and those performing more than 30 herniotomies in a year were more likely to open the inguinal canal without dividing the external ring in all age groups. There was quite obviously no standard surgical technique for inguinal herniotomy in children in this survey, and there are only trends.