Abstract Objectives To review our experience with the laparoscopic restaging procedure of presumed early stage borderline ovarian tumours. Design Retrospective study. Setting Cancer centre. Population Thirty patients with presumed stage I borderline ovarian tumours after limited initial surgery Methods From April 1991 to May 2001, the patients were laparoscopically reassessed. The procedure involved peritoneal cytology, exploration of the peritoneal cavity, infracolic omentectomy, directed or random peritoneal biopsies, and when appropriate, contralateral oophorectomy and hysterectomy and appendectomy. Medical records were reviewed for patients' age, interval time between procedures, tumour stage, histological type, operative time, hospital stay, peri-operative complications and follow up. Main outcome measures Seroperative and postoperative data, pathology and clinical follow up. Results Laparoscopic restaging was completed in all 30 (100%) identified patients. The mean age was 34.8 (10.5) years; the delay between initial operation and restaging laparoscopy averaged 9.8 (6.6) weeks. The mean operative time was 165.4 (53.8) minutes, and the mean hospital stay was 2.7 (1.3) days. There were two (7.0%) major complications related directly to the procedure. Eight (26.6%) patients were upstaged. Mean follow up was 29.1 (6.6) months, all patients are alive and one (3.2%) recurrence was observed. Conclusions Laparoscopic approach of restaging for borderline ovarian tumours is an accurate safe procedure. It is associated with an acceptable rate of minor complications, it has similar morbidity associated with laparotomy and it minimises the incidence of infertility in the young patients. Whenever staging of borderline ovarian tumours is to be considered in an individual patient, laparoscopy provides a suitable alternative approach.