STUDY OBJECTIVE To evaluate the feasibility and safety of the obturator approach for placement of a vaginal suburethral sling indicated for women with stress urinary incontinence. DESIGN Retrospective cohort analysis (Canadian Task Force classification IV). SETTING University teaching hospital. PATIENTS Forty-nine women suffering from stress incontinence. INTERVENTION Analysis of the suburethral sling according to surgical approach during two consecutive periods: retropubic from January 1, 2001 through September 30, 2001, and obturator from October 1, 2001 through January 31, 2002. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS During the study period, 25 patients underwent surgery with the retropubic approach and 24 with the obturator approach. The patient characteristics did not differ between the two groups. The obturator approach was feasible in all attempted procedures. The mean operative time was 46 minutes (range 20-90) for the retropubic approach compared with 32 minutes (range 15-50) for the obturator approach (p = .03). Two bladder injuries occurred with the former, none with the latter (although cystoscopy was not routinely performed) (p = .49). Similarly, significantly more patients in the retropubic approach group had difficulty with postoperative voiding compared with those in the obturator approach group (10 [40%] vs 2 [8%], p = .01). Only two patients, both in the retropubic group, had voiding difficulties for longer than 1 week. One month after surgery, continence results did not differ significantly between the two groups (p = .30). In the retropubic approach group, 20 (80%) of the women were cured, and substantial improvement was experienced by 5 (20%). In the obturator approach group, these figures were 20 (83%) and 3 (12.5%), respectively, with one surgical failure (4%). Those initial results were unchanged at last follow-up (mean follow-up was 13.7 +/- 3 months for the retropubic approach group and 7.2 +/- 2 months for the obturator approach group). CONCLUSION The obturator approach for suburethral slings is feasible and safe and may limit both preoperative and postoperative complications. Our short-term continence results compare well with those achieved with the retropubic approach. A randomized study is now needed to compare these two approaches.