The great majority of hysterectomies in nulliparous patients have been carried out via laparotomy. The purpose of this study was to establish whether laparoscopic surgery can be of use in an attempt to reduce the number of laparotomies when hysterectomy is indicated in patients without previous vaginal delivery. A retrospective study was carried out on 66 women who had not had a previous vaginal delivery who underwent hysterectomy from January 1993 to May 1995. Laparotomy was required for only 19.7% of cases (13 patients). For the 53 patients (80.3%) who underwent laparoscopic hysterectomy, the average duration of the operation was 152.24 +/- 45.7 min, and the average weight of the uterus was 238.3 +/- 154.1 g. The duration of the laparoscopic operation was correlated in a statistically significant fashion with the weight of the uterus (P = 0.0005), the necessity of associated procedures during the hysterectomy (P = 0.01) and the surgeons' experience (P = 0.01). These results demonstrated that laparoscopic surgery decreases the number of laparotomies necessary for patients with no previous vaginal delivery who require hysterectomy. When vaginal access is poor, simple laparoscopic preparation is inadequate and the only possibility of avoiding laparotomy is to carry out the hysterectomy entirely via the laparoscopic route.