Background. We sought to determine whether laparoscopic techniques can reduce the operative morbidity of surgery in patients undergoing splenectomy for immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP). Methods. All patients (60) undergoing splenectomy for ITP at the Royal Adelaide Hospital from January 1985 to November 1995 were reviewed. Results of patients undergoing open operation were obtained by means of retrospective case note review, whereas details of all patients undergoing laparoscopic splenectomy were collected prospectively and maintained on a computerized database. Results. Forty-seven patients underwent splenectomy with an open technique and 13 with a laparoscopic technique. Patient groups were demographically similar. All laparoscopic procedures were completed with the laparoscopic technique. An accessory spleen was also removed at laparoscopic operation from two (15%) patients and at open operation from three patients (6%). Two more accessory spleens were missed at the original procedure, one at open operation and one at laparoscopic operation. These required later removal by using open and laparoscopic techniques, respectively. Blood and platelet transfusion requirements were reduced by the laparoscopic approach. Although mean operating times were similar (87 versus 88 minutes), laparoscopic splenectomy was associated with a greatly reduced postoperative hospital stay (10 versus 2 days, median; p < 0.0001) and no major morbidity. Long-term normalization of platelet counts was similar for the two techniques. The laparoscopic approach resulted in a reduction in hospital treatment costs from $4224 to $2238 per case (cost savings of $1986 per case). Conclusions. Laparoscopic splenectomy results in improved clinical outcomes and reduced costs for patients undergoing elective splenectomy for ITP.