We reviewed 195 knees in 167 patients at least 20 years after a rim-preserving meniscectomy. They were considered in two groups: 102 knees had had an intact anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), and 93 had had an unrepaired rupture. More patients with a ruptured ACL had downgraded their sport activity by five years after meniscectomy. The incidence of radiographic osteoarthritis was about 65% at 27 years in patients with a ruptured ligament, and 86% in those followed up for over 30 years. In the ligament-deficient group 10% had had operations for osteoarthritis, and another 28% had had other operations, mainly further meniscectomies. Only 6% of those with an intact ligament had needed a second operation after meniscectomy and at long-term follow-up 92% of them were satisfied or very satisfied. Only 74% of the ligament-deficient patients were satisfied with their result. The long-term outcome after rim-preserving meniscectomy depends mainly upon the state of the anterior cruciate ligament.