The tension-free vaginal tape (TVT) procedure is recognised as an effective treatment for genuine stress incontinence. It was first described using local anaesthesia, with an intra-operative cough test helping to correctly position the tape. Many patients prefer general anaesthesia and often, patients with genuine stress incontinence do not leak when supine. This aim of this study was to compare the outcome in TVTs performed under general anaesthesia with those performed under spinal anaesthesia. Retrospective analysis of 105 patients, all of whom had urodynamically proven genuine stress incontinence and underwent TVT procedure, was performed: 52 under spinal anaesthesia and 53 under general anaesthesia. The primary and secondary outcome measures were the success or failure of the procedure and the complication rate, respectively. There was no significant difference in outcome or complication rate between the two groups. The type of anaesthetic used does not influence the outcome and we question the necessity of an intra-operative cough test.