We audited the relationship between obesity and the age at which hip and knee replacement was undertaken at our centre. The database was analysed for age, the Oxford hip or knee score and the body mass index (BMI) at the time of surgery. In total, 1369 patients were studied, 1025 treated by hip replacement and 344 by knee replacement. The patients were divided into five groups based on their BMI (normal, overweight, moderately obese, severely obese and morbidly obese). The difference in the mean Oxford score at surgery was not statistically significant between the groups (p > 0.05). For those undergoing hip replacement, the mean age of the morbidly obese patients was ten years less than that of those with a normal BMI. For those treated by knee replacement, the difference was 13 years. The age at surgery fell significantly for those with a BMI > 35 kg/m(2) for both hip and knee replacement (p > 0.05). This association was stronger for patients treated by knee than by hip replacement.