BACKGROUND In the operative treatment of idiopathic hydroceles the available techniques are frequently not selected as indicated according to the different expansions of hydroceles but rather the accustomed procedures are used. MATERIAL AND METHODS In a retrospective analysis the methods and complications of hydrocele operations were evaluated. RESULTS From 1988 to 2008 195 hydroceles in 191 patients were operated upon: 22 (11.3 %) by eversion (according to Jaboulay), 27 (13.8 %) by resection (according to von Bergmann) and 146 (74.9 %) by a combination of resection and eversion (according to Kocher) of the tunica vaginalis communis. In 14 (7.2 %) patients the operation was indicated by a recurrent hydrocele, either after an eversion alone (n = 7) or after an insufficient resection (n = 7) of the tunica vaginalis communis. As complications of the operation an abscess occurred in 4 (21 %) cases, a haematoma in 5 (2.6 %) cases and a combination of both had to be reoperated in 2 (1.0 %) cases. CONCLUSIONS In order to prevent recurrent hydroceles the available methods for the operative treatment of idiopathic hydrocele should be selected according to the different expansions of the hydroceles and as such consequently executed.