To evaluate the advisability of incidental appendectomy relative to patient age, a retrospective chart review of 905 patients undergoing elective cholecystectomy between 1979 and 1983 was undertaken. A total 377 of these patients underwent incidental appendectomy. The overall complication rate in the two groups was the same. Wound infection occurred in 1.5 per cent of patients undergoing cholecystectomy alone, compared with 3.7 per cent in those patients undergoing incidental appendectomy as well. Patients over the age of 50 who underwent incidental appendectomy had a wound infection rate of 5.9 per cent, compared with 0.9 per cent in those patients over 50 who underwent cholecystectomy alone, a difference found to be statistically significant (P less than .05). Therefore, incidental appendectomy cannot be recommended for patients over the age of 50.