The aim of the present review is to evaluate the English language literature regarding factors associated with the loss of oral implants. An evidence-based format in conjunction, when possible, with a meta-analytic approach is used. The review identifies the following factors to be associated with biological failures of oral implants: medical status of the patient, smoking, bone quality, bone grafting, irradiation therapy, parafunctions, operator experience, degree of surgical trauma, bacterial contamination, lack of preoperative antibiotics, immediate loading, nonsubmerged procedure, number of implants supporting a prosthesis, implant surface characteristics and design. Excessive surgical trauma together with an impaired healing ability, premature loading and infection are likely to be the most common causes of early implant losses. Whereas progressive chronic marginal infection (peri-implantitis) and overload in conjunction with the host characteristics are the major etiological agents causing late failures. Furthermore, it appears that implant surface properties (roughness and type of coating) may influence the failure pattern. Various surface properties may therefore be indicated for different anatomical and host conditions. Finally, the histopathology of implant losses is described and discussed in relation to the clinical findings.