This article compares recent paediatric and adolescent (adeno)tonsillectomy (T +/- Ads) rates in several countries of the European Union, the US, Canada and Australia. Trends in paediatric and adolescent surgical rates in the Netherlands and UK from 1974 to 1998 are studied as well. In 1998, the paediatric T +/- Ads rate varied from 19 per 10000 children in Canada to 118 per 10000 in Northern Ireland, while the adolescent rate varied from 19 per 10000 adolescents in Canada to 76 per 10000 in Finland. In the Netherlands, the paediatric T +/- Ads rate decreased rapidly between 1974 and 1985 and remained similar since. Ten years later, between 1985 and 1998, the adolescent T +/- Ads rate increased. In the UK, on the other hand, an increase in T +/- Ads was observed both in children and in adolescents. This study shows that paediatric and adolescent T +/- Ads rates still vary considerably between countries. There is no definitive evidence that decreasing rates of T +/- Ads in childhood are associated with tonsil-related disease, necessitating surgery, in later life.