We reviewed the experience of a dedicated orthopaedic elective service to determine whether we could establish a BMI group where arthroplasty was no longer effective as assessed by the patient's functional outcome. This was a prospective observational study with retrospective analysis of data collected on 1439 total hip arthroplasty, 934 total knee arthroplasty and 326 unicompartment knee arthroplasty patients. Functional scores (WOMAC, Oxford hip and knee scores and HAAS) were obtained preoperatively and at 12 months post op. Patients had their BMI recorded at the preoperative assessment and were divided into BMI groups (BMI<25, BMI 25-30, BMI 30-35 and BMI > 35). Patients with a BMI of ≤ 30 had significantly better functional scores at 12 months post op compared to those with a BMI of > 35. The absolute gain in functional scores from pre op to 12 months post op did not differ significantly between BMI groups, the only significant difference we found for absolute gain showed patients with a BMI of > 35 have a greater increase in HAAS scores following total hip arthroplasty compared to patients with a BMI of 30 or less (p = 0.0435). Our patients with higher BMI's had worse preoperative and post operative functional scores but their benefit from surgery measured by the change in functional scores showed no difference compared to patients with lower BMI. We could find no reason on the basis of the 12-month results to limit surgery to obese patients because of an expected poorer functional outcome.