Many different lengths of stem are available for use in primary total hip replacement, and the morphology of the proximal femur varies greatly. The more recently developed shortened stems provide a distribution of stress which closely mimics that of the native femur. Shortening the femoral component potentially comes at the cost of decreased initial stability. Clinical studies on the performance of shortened cemented and cementless stems are promising, although long-term follow-up studies are lacking. We provide an overview of the current literature on the anatomical features of the proximal femur and the biomechanical aspects and clinical outcomes associated with the length of the femoral component in primary hip replacement, and suggest a classification system for the length of femoral stems.