Untreated acetabular dysplasia following treatment for developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) leads to early degenerative joint disease. Clinicians must accurately and reliably recognise dysplasia in order to intervene appropriately with secondary acetabular or femoral procedures. This study sought early predictors of residual dysplasia in order to establish empirically-based indications for treatment. DDH treated by closed or open reduction alone was reviewed. Residual hip dysplasia was defined according to the Severin classification at skeletal maturity. Future hip replacement in a subset of these patients was compared with the Severin classification. Serial measurements of acetabular development and subluxation of the femoral head were collected, as were the age at reduction, type of reduction, and Tonnis grade prior to reduction. These variables were used to predict the Severin classification. The mean age at reduction in 72 hips was 16 months (1 to 46). On the final radiograph, 47 hips (65%) were classified as Severin I/II, and 25 as Severin III/IV (35%). At 40 years after reduction, five of 43 hips (21%) had had a total hip replacement (THR). The Severin grade was predictive for THR. Early measurements of the acetabular index (AI) were predictive for Severin grade. For example, an AI of 35 degrees or more at two years after reduction was associated with an 80% probability of becoming a Severin grade III/IV hip. This study links early acetabular remodelling, residual dysplasia at skeletal maturity and the long-term risk of THR. It presents evidence describing the diagnostic value of early predictors of residual dysplasia, and therefore, of the long-term risk of degenerative change.