Background: Although the laparoscopic totally extraperitoneal (TEP) approach to hernia repair has been associated with less pain and a faster postoperative recovery than traditional open repair, many practicing surgeons have been reluctant to adopt this technique because of the lengthy operative times and the learning curve for this procedure. Methods: Data from all patients undergoing TEP repair since 1997 and open mesh repair (OPEN) since 1999 were collected prospectively. Selection of surgical approach was based on local hernia factors, anesthetic risk, previous abdominal surgery, and patient preference. Statistical analyses were performed using unpaired t-tests and chi-squared tests. Data are mean ± SD. Results: TEP repairs were performed in 147 patients and open repairs in 198 patients. Patients in the OPEN group were significantly older (59 ± 19 years OPEN vs 51 ± 13 years TEP) and had a higher ASA (1.9 ± 0.7 OPEN vs 1.5 ± 0.6 TEP; p < 0.01). TEP repairs were more likely to be carried out for bilateral (33% TEP, 5% OPEN) or recurrent hernias (31% TEP, 11% OPEN) than were open repairs (p < 0.01). Concurrent procedures accompanied 31% of TEP and 12% of OPEN repairs (p < 0.01). Operative times (min) were significantly shorter in the TEP group for both unilateral (63 ± 22 TEP, 70 ± 20 OPEN; p = 0.02) and bilateral (78 ± 27 TEP, 102 ± 27 OPEN; p = 0.01) repairs. Mean operative times decreased over time in the TEP group for both unilateral and bilateral repairs (p < 0.01). Patients undergoing TEP were more likely (p < 0.01) to develop urinary retention (7.9% TEP, 1.1% OPEN), but were less likely (p < 0.01) to have skin numbness (2.8% TEP, 35.8% OPEN) or prolonged groin discomfort (1.4% TEP, 5.3% OPEN). Conclusions: Despite a higher proportion of patients undergoing bilateral repairs, recurrent hernia repair, and concurrent procedures, operative times are shorter for laparoscopic TEP repair than for open mesh repair. TEP repairs can be performed efficiently and without major complications, even when the learning curve is included.