A prospective, randomized trial was performed to compare open appendectomy with laparoscopic appendectomy in men with a clinical diagnosis of acute appendicitis. Sixty-four patients with a median age of 25 years (range 18-84 years) were randomized to open appendectomy (n = 31) or laparoscopic (n = 33) appendectomy. Of the 64 men, 56 (87.5%) had appendicitis (27 open, 29 laparoscopic procedures). The mean operating times were 50.6 ± 3.7 minutes (± SEM) for open and 58.9 ± 4.0 minutes for laparoscopic appendectomy (p = 0.13). Five (15%) patients randomized to laparoscopic appendectomy had an open operation. The mean postoperative hospital stay was significantly longer for open appendectomy (3.8 ± 0.4 days) than for laparoscopic appendectomy (2.9 ± 0.3 days) (t = 2.05, df = 62, p = 0.045). The complication rate after open appendectomy (25.8%) was not significantly different from that after laparoscopic appendectomy (12.1%). There was a single postoperative death due to a pulmonary embolus in the laparoscopic group and a single death due to cardiac and renal failure in the open group. The mean time to return to normal activities was significantly longer following open appendectomy (19.7 ± 2.4 days) than after laparoscopic appendectomy (10.4 ± 0.9 days), (t = 3.75, df = 49, p = 0.001). In conclusion, laparoscopic appendectomy in men has significant advantages in terms of a more rapid recovery compared to open appendectomy. There were no significant disadvantages to laparoscopic appendectomy compared to open appendectomy.