We investigated the risk of heterotopic ossification (HO) after total hip arthroplasty in 67 patients, 16 of whom had diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH). DISH was diagnosed on chest, dorsolumbar and pelvic radiographs. HO was graded according to DeLee et al. (1976). After a 1.4 year follow-up, 21 patients had HO. The risk of HO was 5 times higher in DISH than in non-DISH patients, but lower in patients receiving antivitamin K than in those receiving other anticoagulant therapy (relative risk 0.2). Our findings lead us to recommend that DISH should be diagnosed preoperatively for preventive therapy. They also suggest a preventive effect of antivitamin K against heterotopic ossification after hip arthroplasty.