Hip fractures are an ever increasing cause of morbidity and mortality. Treatment of this condition requires an all-encompassing approach from prevention to post-operative care. It is important in such a situation to gather data on the incidence and trends of hip fractures to aid in the future treatment planning of this important condition. A review of all articles published on the outcome after hip fracture over a four decade period (1959-1998) was undertaken to determine any changes that had occurred in the demographics of patients and mortality over this time period. The mean age of patients sustaining hip fractures was found to be steadily increasing over the study period at a rate of 1 year of age for every 5-year time period. The mean age in the 1960s was 73 years to a mean of 79 years in the 1990s. No notable differences were seen in the proportion of male patients over the years but a definite downward trend was noticed with regard to intracapsular fractures. The mortality at 6 and 12 months after injury remained essentially unchanged over the four decades reviewed. Mortality after a hip fracture remains significant, being 11-23% at 6 months and 22-29% at 1 year from injury. Geographical variations exist in the mortality after hip fracture. More detailed international comparisons are required to determine if these differences in outcome are accounted for by the variations in the demographics of patients or due to diversities in treatment methods.