To determine the impact of the type of surgical intervention and medicosocial factors in the fitness for work after cholecystectomy, 2094 records of patients were reviewed. Subjects were Christian sickness fund recipients who underwent surgery from 1992 until 1994 with a follow-up period between 1 to 3 years. A work incapacity longer than 6 weeks was defined as a bad outcome. Data were analyzed using univariate statistics (chi2-test) and logistic regression. A laparoscopic cholecystectomy was significantly associated with an earlier fitness for work and a shorter period of hospital stay. In general, a bad outcome was also related to a longer period of work incapacity before the intervention, older age, longer hospital stay, employment as a blue collar worker and operation in a non-university medical center. These factors should be taken into account in the selection of patients for cholecystectomy, and in policies to improve patients recovery and fitness for work. Clear information about the duration of the postoperative recovery period and the incapacity for work should be given to the patients before the intervention. An unnecessary long time of sick leave without medical motive should be avoided.