A 20-year (1971-1990) retrospective follow-up of all patients with a Meckel diverticulum (MD) out of the Kantonsspital and St. Claraspital Basel is reported. There were 57 men and 34 women with a mean age of 46.7 years (14-89). 60.4% of the cases were occasional findings, 39.6% were symptomatic MD. During the same period of time 5000 appendectomies were performed (ratio diverticulectomy to appendectomy was 1:50). 38.5% of the resections of MD were done when an acute appendicitis was supposed. In one third of the cases the MD was responsible for the symptomatology. Histological findings were 13% unspecific inflammation, 10% perforation, 9.8% ectopic tissue, 6.5% bleeding and 4.3% tumors. 8 out of 36 patients with pathological findings showed postoperative complications (21.6%), the mortality rate was 8.1%. In 55% resected MD without any additional histological findings only one complication (postoperative ileus) (1.9%) was found; mortality was zero per cent. The analysis of these data shows that complications of MD does not only appear in young patients. Complications occur more often in patients with MD with additional ectopy. We recommend the resection of an incidentally discovered Meckel diverticulum.