OBJECTIVE: To assess the annual rates of cholecystectomy 1932-1993 in Stockholm and compare them with the rates for other common surgical procedures. DESIGN: Retrospective collection of data from annual hospital records. SETTING: Teaching hospital, Sweden. SUBJECTS: All subjects in Stockholm county who underwent cholecystectomy, herniorrhaphy, appendicectomy, colonic resection for cancer and mastectomy for cancer or who were admitted to hospital with acute cholecystitis and not operated on. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Annual rates from 1932-1993. RESULTS: The rate of cholecystectomies/100000 inhabitants increased slowly from 1932 and peaked in 1957 at 315. It then decreased to 67 in 1990 after which the introduction of laparoscopic technique caused an increase to the present rate of 90. CONCLUSION: There has been a rise and a fall of the cholecystectomy rate during the last 60 years in Stockholm county which are probably explained by changes in the indications for the operation. There was no association with health care facilities or with changes in the rates of other operations.