PURPOSE: To analyse the effects of lightweight meshes in laparoscopic inguinal hernia repair on male fertility aspects, chronic pain development and recurrence at 3-year follow-up. METHODS: Fifty-nine male patients with a primary, unilateral or bilateral inguinal hernia were randomised to laparoscopic inguinal hernia repair using a standard polypropylene (Marlex(®)) or lightweight mesh (VyproII(®), TiMesh(®)). Patients attended clinical follow-up 3 years postoperatively, at which male fertility aspects, by semen analysis and scrotal ultrasound, chronic pain status (McGill Pain Questionnaire), quality of life (SF-36) and recurrence were assessed, or completed quality of life, pain and hernia-specific questionnaires at home. RESULTS: In total, 49 patients (83.1 %) completed follow-up (median follow-up = 39.1 months), by questionnaire and/or clinical follow-up. As other semen parameters and scrotal ultrasound results, sperm motility was unchanged compared to 1 year postoperatively, but not significantly different between VyproII(®) and TiMesh(®) versus Marlex(®) patients (-8.5 % and -8 % vs. -2.8 %; P = 0.23). Pain perception and quality of life were comparable between the heavyweight and lightweight groups, and no change was noted in comparison with 1 year postoperatively. Chronic pain incidence was 6.1 % (3 patients), without occurrence of disabling pain. Three patients were clinically diagnosed with a recurrent hernia (5.9 %). CONCLUSIONS: The decrease in sperm motility in patients operated on with a lightweight mesh compared to patients operated on with a heavyweight mesh 1 year after laparoscopic inguinal hernia repair could not be confirmed at 3 years follow-up. Furthermore, heavyweight and lightweight groups were comparable regarding quality of life, chronic pain and recurrence rate.