The outcome of surgery for recurrent lumbar disc herniation is debatable. Some studies show results that are comparable with those of primary discectomy, whereas others report worse outcomes. The purpose of this study was to compare the outcome of revision lumbar discectomy with that of primary discectomy in the same cohort of patients who had both the primary and the recurrent herniation at the same level and side.A retrospective analysis of prospectively gathered data was undertaken in 30 patients who had undergone both primary and revision surgery for late recurrent lumbar disc herniation. The outcome measures used were visual analogue scales for lower limb (VAL) and back (VAB) pain and the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI).There was a significant improvement in the mean VAL and ODI scores (both p < 0.001) after primary discectomy. Revision surgery also resulted in improvements in the mean VAL (p < 0.001), VAB (p = 0.030) and ODI scores (p < 0.001). The changes were similar in the two groups (all p > 0.05).Revision discectomy can give results that are as good as those seen after primary surgery.