Undetected anatomical variations of the short saphenous vein are a major contributing factor to recurrent varicose veins in the saphenous vein area. Perioperative venography and varicography of the short saphenous vein have been proposed as a means of exact localization of its termination. The present study evaluated whether colour-coded duplex examination constituted a reliable alternative for localization of the saphenopopliteal junction. Between 1989 and 1990, 12 patients were reoperated on after previous classical ligation of the short saphenous vein. Preoperative colour-coded duplex examination revealed an abnormally high saphenopopliteal junction with persistent reflux in 11 patients and a Giacomini vein in one. When comparing these results with venographic and operative findings an accuracy of 100% was reached in these specific cases. It is concluded that for patients with recurrent varicosis of the short saphenous vein, preoperative colour-coded duplex examination provides a reliable non-invasive alternative to venography in the exact localization of the saphenopopliteal junction.