A retrospective review of 715 consecutive cases of total joint arthroplasty (283 hips, 432 knees), performed for a variety of indications during 1992 and 1993, was undertaken to assess the cost effectiveness of routine pathologic examination. The charts were reviewed for preoperative, operative, and pathologic diagnosis, and any discrepancies in diagnosis were noted. Particular attention was paid to pathologic findings suggestive of neoplasia or rheumatoid arthritis that were not noted in the preoperative or operative diagnoses. Six of the 715 cases fit into this category, but all failed to have any clinical significance. No alteration in patient care resulted from routine pathologic examination. This paper questions the necessity of routinely submitting pathologic specimens in uncomplicated total hip and knee arthroplasty.