BACKGROUND--In current ophthalmic practice day-case surgery cataract patients are conventionally discharged and then reviewed the following morning thus limiting the advantages of what 'true' day-case surgery strives to achieve. The aim of this study was to see if there was a difference in outcome between 'true' day-case cataract surgery and non-day-care surgery. METHODS--A total of 387 consecutive cataract operations were followed, comprising 122 local anaesthetic day-cases, 149 local anaesthetic non-day-cases, 63 general anaesthetic non-day-cases, and 53 general anaesthetic day-cases. RESULTS--Although not randomised the groups were comparable with respect to age, operator grade, sex, presence of diabetes, anaesthetic type, pre and postoperative visual acuities, and time to first planned outpatient visit. There were 10 early postoperative complications in the day-case group (5.71% of total) and 14 in the non-day-case group (6.6% of total), the commonest complications in both groups were raised intraocular pressure, corneal oedema, and wound leaks. One patient in each group had an early complication that necessitated attending the casualty department. The visual outcomes in both groups were comparable. CONCLUSIONS--These findings suggest that there were no preventable complications within the constraints of the number of operations studied and that no additional risk is attached to 'true' day-case surgery relative to non-day-case surgery.