The outcome of total hip replacement (THR) is potentially affected by the body mass index (BMI) of the patient. We studied the outcome of 2026 consecutive primary cementless THRs performed for osteoarthritis. The mean follow-up was 6.3 years (0 to 11.71) and no patient was lost to follow-up for survival analysis. The patients were divided into two groups according to their BMI as follows: non-obese (BMI < 30 kg/m(2)) and obese (BMI > or = 30 kg/m(2)). The obese patient undergoing surgery was found to be significantly younger (p < 0.001). The log-rank test for equality of survival showed no difference in the mid-term survival (p = 0.552) with an estimated survival at 11 years of 95.2% (95% CI 92.5 to 98.0) in the non-obese and 96.7% (95% CI 94.9 to 98.5) in the obese groups. The clinical and radiological outcome was determined in a case-matched study performed on 134 obese individuals closely matched with 134 non-obese controls. The non-obese group was found to have a significantly higher post-operative Harris hip score (p < 0.001) and an increased range of movement, but overall satisfaction with surgery was comparable with that of the obese patients. Radiological analysis of the acetabular and femoral components showed no significant differences with regard to radiolucent lines, osteolysis, ingrowth of the femoral component, the acetabular inclination angle or alignment of the femoral component. Our results suggest that the survival of cementless THR is not adversely affected by obesity. Obese patients can therefore be counselled that despite a lower clinical score, they should expect to be satisfied with the result of their THR with a mid-term survival rate equivalent to that of non-obese patients.