This review is based on the results of 308 operations for unexplained, chronic groin pain suspected to be caused by an imminent, but not demonstrable, inguinal hernia: the 'sportsman's hernia' (SH). No differences in perioperative findings between cured and non-cured athletes were found. However, there was a remarkable difference between the various perioperative findings in the studies. It was characteristic that further clinical investigation of the noncured, operated athletes gave an alternative and treatable diagnosis in more than 80% of cases. Herniography was used consistently in the diagnostic process in all the studies on SH. However, in 49% of cases hernias were also demonstrated on the opposite, asymptomatic groin side. In conclusion, the final diagnosis (and treatment) often reflects the speciality of the doctor and the present literature does not supply proper evidence to the theory that SH constitutes a credible explanation for chronic groin pain.