A multicentre study was carried out in seven top French centres for laparoscopic gynaecological surgery. This series covers a period of 9 years, in which 29,966 diagnostic and operative laparoscopic operations were performed. The risk of complications has been assessed according to the complexity of the laparoscopic procedure in question. The means of diagnosis and treatment of the complications have been analysed, together with the importance of the surgeon's degree of experience. The mortality rate was 3.33 per 100,000 laparoscopies. The overall complication rate was 4.64 per 1000 laparoscopies (n = 139). The rate of complications requiring laparotomy was 3.20 per 1000 (n = 96). The complication rate was significantly correlated with the complexity of the laparoscopic procedure (P = 0.0001). One in three complications (34.1%; n = 43) occurred while setting up for laparoscopy, and one in four (28.6%) were not diagnosed during the operation. As new indications for laparoscopic surgery in gynaecology have appeared, there has been a parallel and statistically significant increase in the rate of urological complications (P = 0.001). Increased experience by the surgeons has had three consequences: a statistically significant drop in the number of bowel injuries (P = 0.0003), a drop in the rate of complications requiring laparotomy for those laparoscopic surgical procedures that are well defined (P = 0.01), and a change in the way complications are treated, with a significant increase in the proportion of incidents treated by laparoscopy (P = 0.0001).