In this retrospective study, we compared the results of 1,283 open cholecystectomies (OCs) performed at our medical center during the pre-laparoscopic era with 1,107 laparoscopic cholecystectomies (LCs) performed from 1990 to 1992. There was no difference in the percentage of cases of acute and chronic cholecystitis in each time period (16.8% in each), nor were there differences in the patient characteristics for each group. The percentage of patients undergoing intraoperative cholangiography was similar for patients with chronic cholecystitis for each period, although the incidence of abnormal cholangiograms was lower in the laparoscopic era (5.8% versus 15.2%, p<0.001). There was one bile duct injury in the OC group and three in the LC group (although one of these occurred after conversion to an open procedure), but this difference was not statistically significant. However, there was a higher mortality rate in the patients with acute cholecystitis treated with OC (2.3% versus 0%, p=0.03) and an increase in the overall complications in the patients with chronic cholecystitis in the OC group (7.5% versus 3.1%, p<0.001) compared with the LC group. The increase in overall complications appeared to be primarily related to the increased rate of wound-related complications (3.6% versus 0%, p<0.001) in the patients with chronic cholecystitis in the OC group. LC appears to be a safe procedure with a low incidence of complications including bile duct injury when performed by adequately trained surgeons.