A randomized controlled clinical trial was conducted on a series of 120 consecutive cases of rhegmatogenous retinal detachment. One group of 60 eyes, randomly selected, was managed with a scleral buckling operation which included the drainage of subretinal fluid. The other group of 60 had a similar operation without drainage of subretinal fluid. A new method for evaluating complications, the "Complications Score," was devised. The score was significantly higher for the drainage group but this did not decrease the final anatomic or visual results. Eight-seven percent of the drainage group were reattached with one operation, a figure not significantly different from the 83% reattached in the nondrainage group. The final cure rate after reoperations was 97% for both groups. The best corrected visual acuity, measured six months postoperatively, was not significantly different for the two groups. This study concludes that equally good results can be obtained with either a drainage or nondrainage operation.