Previous studies on the timing of surgery for fracture of the hip provide conflicting evidence as to the effect of prolonged delay before operation. We have prospectively reviewed 3628 such fractures in patients older than 60 years of age. Those for whom the delay was for medical reasons were excluded. Patients were followed up for one year or until death. Operation was undertaken within 48 hours in 95.2% and after this in 4.8%. A significant increase in length of stay was found in patients operated on after 48 hours when compared with those in the earlier group (21.6 vs 32.5 days). No increase in hospital stay was found for lesser delays.