We reviewed the medical records of 1,726 eyes consecutively operated on with extracapsular cataract extraction to examine the incidence of and the risk factors for retinal detachment (RD). In Denmark, both diagnoses and deaths are registered centrally; therefore, a complete follow-up was achieved in each case and actuarial statistical methods were used in the risk assessment. Seven eyes (0.41%) developed RD and 345 eyes (20.0%) had YAG-laser capsulotomy in the observation period, which averaged 39 months. We identified the following risk factors for RD: age less than 70 years at the time of surgery, intraoperative complications, axial length > or = 25 mm. Nonsignificant factors included male gender and postoperative complications. One eye (0.29%) developed RD following YAG-laser capsulotomy. We concluded that the high risk of RD is concentrated in a small group of myopic patients who have cataract surgery when they are less than 70 years of age. Our results do not suggest a causal relationship between YAG-laser capsulotomy and subsequent RD.