Obesity is a prevalent metabolic disorder associated with high morbidity and mortality rates. Medical treatment rarely succeeds, and bariatric surgery has been proposed as an alternative therapy. The purpose of this non-controlled retrospective study was to evaluate time-course changes in body weight in severely obese patients who underwent vertical ring gastroplasty or adjustable silicone gastric banding, and to assess the prevalence and potential reversibility of several of the biological abnormalities associated with morbid obesity. From an initial cohort comprising 658 patients, regular body weight measurements and biological data were obtained in 505 patients [419 females, 86 males; age 36 +/- 11 years; body mass index 42.7 +/- 6.9 kg/m2; (mean +/- SD)] with a mean follow-up of 26 +/- 14 months. Mean weight loss was 32 +/- 16 kg. Most weight reduction occurred within the first 6 months, followed by near-stabilisation or even slight weight regain. Most biological parameters were obtained before surgery and after at least 6 months of follow-up. The high prevalence and severity of metabolic disturbances associated with the insulin resistance syndrome (hyperglycaemia, hyperinsulinaemia, decreased HDL cholesterol, hypertriglyceridaemia, elevated fibrinogen levels and hyperuricaemia) before gastroplasty were significantly decreased after weight loss. No major biological deficiencies were observed following gastroplasty, except low iron serum levels. It is concluded that marked weight loss associated with gastroplasty involved a remarkable reduction in the prevalence and severity of several biological abnormalities classically considered as cardiovascular risk factors.