We investigated the changes in surface roughness of retrieved femoral components in 18 men and four women at revision knee surgery. The mean age at revision was 68.4 years and the mean period of implantation was for 55.6 months. Eighteen implants were retrieved for aseptic loosening and four for infection. The surface changes in the articulating areas were inspected visually and the roughness (Ra) analysed with a profilometer. Parallel scratching and burnishing were the two main forms of damage. The mean Ra measurements in the articulating areas showed no statistically significant difference when compared with those in a control area on either side of the patellar groove at the apex of the femoral flange. This suggests that it is not essential to revise a well-fixed and correctly aligned femoral component where the polished surface has become burnished or bears fine parallel scratches, if the revision is conducted solely for failure of the tibial component.