We describe 83 knees (69 patients) which had had patellectomy for anterior knee pain (52), patellofemoral osteoarthritis (25) or comminuted fractures (6) between 1942 and 1978. The patients were questioned about their symptoms and the function of the operated knee 14 to 50 years after operation. In the group with anterior knee pain, 76% achieved good results and were satisfied with the operation. Only 54% of the osteoarthritis group had satisfactory relief of pain and most had progressive deterioration of function. Sixteen patients who had had unilateral patellectomy were assessed by dynamometry, ultrasound and radiography. The average quadriceps muscle power was 60% of that on the normal side although two patients had stronger muscles in their operated than in their unoperated legs.