The purpose of this study was to compare the outcome and complications of endoscopic versus open release for the treatment of de Quervain's tenosynovitis. Patients with this condition were randomised to undergo either endoscopic (n = 27) or open release (n = 25). Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) pain and Disabilities of Arm, Shoulder, and Hand (DASH) scores were measured at 12 and 24 weeks after surgery. Scar satisfaction was measured using a VAS scale. The mean pain and DASH scores improved significantly at 12 weeks and 24 weeks (p < 0.001) in both groups. The scores were marginally lower in the endoscopic group compared to the open group at 12 weeks (p = 0.012 and p = 0.002, respectively); however, only the DASH score showed a clinically important difference. There were no differences between the groups at 24 weeks. The mean VAS scar satisfaction score was higher in the endoscopic group at 24 weeks (p < 0.001). Transient superficial radial nerve injury occurred in three patients in the endoscopic group compared with nine in the open release group (p = 0.033). We conclude that endoscopic release for de Quervain's tenosynovitis seems to provide earlier improvement after surgery, with fewer superficial radial nerve complications and greater scar satisfaction, when compared with open release.