Background and purpose: The Kaplan-Meier (KM) method is often used in the analysis of arthroplasty registry data to estimate the probability of revision after a primary procedure. In the presence of a competing risk such as death, KM is known to overestimate the probability of revision. We investigated the degree to which the risk of revision is overestimated in registry data. Patients and methods: We compared KM estimates of risk of revision with the cumulative incidence function (CIF), which takes account of death as a competing risk. We considered revision by (1) prosthesis type in subjects aged 75-84 years with fractured neck of femur (FNOF), (2) cement use in monoblock prostheses for FNOF, and (3) age group in patients undergoing total hip arthroplasty (THA) for osteoarthritis (OA). Results: In 5,802 subjects aged 75-84 years with a monoblock prosthesis for FNOF, the estimated risk of revision at 5 years was 6.3% by KM and 4.3% by CIF, a relative difference (RD) of 46%. In 9,821 subjects of all ages receiving an Austin Moore (non-cemented) prosthesis for FNOF, the RD at 5 years was 52% and for 3,116 subjects with a Thompson (cemented) prosthesis, the RD was 79%. In 44,365 subjects with a THA for OA who were less than 70 years old, the RD was just 1.4%; for 47,430 subjects > 70 years of age, the RD was 4.6% at 5 years. Interpretation: The Kaplan-Meier method substantially overestimated the risk of revision compared to estimates using competing risk methods when the risk of death was high. The bias increased with time as the incidence of the competing risk of death increased. Registries should adopt methods of analysis appropriate to the nature of their data.