Of the 11 054 Charnley low-frictional torque arthroplasties carried out at our hospital between 1962 and 1977, 110 (94 patients) had a minimum follow-up of 30 years with a mean of 32.3 years (30.0 to 40.5). The mean age of the patients at operation was 43.3 years (17.0 to 65.0) and 75.7 years (51.0 to 97.0) at follow-up. Overall, 90% of hips (99) were free from pain and activity was reported as normal in 58% of the patients. A total of 13 hips (11.8%) were revised at a mean follow-up of 32.3 years (30.0 to 39.5), with wear and loosening of the acetabular component as the main indications. The clinical results did not reflect the mechanical state of the implant. Follow-up with sequential radiographs of good quality is essential. Revision for radiological changes alone must be accepted if gross loss of bone stock is to be avoided. Improvements in the design, materials and operative technique, based on the long-term outcome, are highlighted.