Background: Better appreciation of the course and factors that influence incidental gallbladder cancer is needed to develop treatment strategies aimed at improved outcomes. The purpose of this study was to determine pattern of disease recurrence and influencing factors in patients undergoing radical re-resection for incidental gallbladder cancer. Methods: Patients undergoing radical re-resection from February 2003 to May 2010 were analyzed. Influence of variables (lymph node ratio, ASA grade, gender, adjuvant treatment, time interval between cholecystectomy and radical re-resection (in months), and TNM stage) on disease-free survival was assessed. Results: Of 163 patients, 127 (92 female and 35 male patients; median age 50 years) underwent successful radical re-resection. Median duration between two surgeries was 2 months (range 1-10). Twenty-five percent of patients with pT1b disease had lymph node metastases. Two-year disease-free survival rate was 79.6 % (median follow-up, 16 months). On follow-up, 18 of 24 patients developed recurrences at distant sites. Lymph node metastasis was the single variable significantly influencing disease-free survival. Adjusting for disease stage when analyzing time interval between cholecystectomy and radical re-resection on a continuous scale as a prognostic factor for recurrence revealed no significant impact of increasing interval between surgeries (hazard ratio 1.12; 95 % confidence interval 0.95-1.34; p = 0.17). Conclusions: The most important predictor of disease recurrence is lymph node metastases. In patients who undergo curative radical re-resection for incidental gallbladder cancer, recurrent disease is more likely to occur at distant sites. Patients with pT1b disease should be offered radical re-resection with a radical lymphadenectomy. It is not the delay in revision surgery but TNM stage that influences outcomes in incidental gallbladder cancer.