Three hundred and nineteen patients who had chondromalacia patellae and persistent patellofemoral pain after six months of conservative management underwent arthroscopy and arthroscopic surgery. The results in four aetiological groups were reviewed at one year and five years after operation. Morbidity was minimal. Lavage produced early remission in all groups. Shaving offered a particular advantage in the post-traumatic group. Lateral release plus shaving and lavage was beneficial in the group with maltracking patellae and in half of the idiopathic group. In the group with unstable patellae, lateral release produced good results in only one in four patients. In conclusion, we consider that arthroscopic surgery has a useful role to play in the management of chondromalacia patellae.