We performed a retrospective study to assess the long-term outcome of non-augmented anatomical direct repair of the lateral ankle ligaments, as originally described by Duquennoy et al, for the treatment of chronic lateral instability of the ankle. This procedure aims to restore stability by the re-insertion and tightening of the original talofibular and calcaneofibular ligaments without division of the ligament. We examined the outcome in terms of the post-operative quality of life, the function of the joint and the development of osteoarthritis. Between 1985 and 2002, 23 patients (11 males, 12 females) with a mean age of 32 years (15 to 58) who had undergone this procedure completed the Short-Form 36 assessment of quality of life and the Olerud and Molander Ankle score for the subjective evaluation of symptoms. Clinical re-evaluation, including examination of the ankle and the completion of the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society questionnaire was performed on 21 patients after a mean follow-up of 13 years (3 to 22.2). At the final follow-up radiographs of both ankles were taken to assess the development of osteoarthritis. The mean total Short-Form 36 and Olerud and Molander Ankle scores in 23 patients at final follow-up were 79.6 points (37 to 100) and 81.6 points (40 to 100), respectively. The mean total post-operative American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society score in 21 patients was 89.7 points (72 to 100). We found a significant post-operative reduction in talar tilt and anterior drawer sign (chi-squared test, p <0.001). The functional outcome of the procedure was excellent in ten patients (48%), good in seven (33%) and fair in four (19%). The results in terms of ankle function and stability did not deteriorate with time and there was little restriction in movement. This procedure is simple and effective with a very low rate of complications.