Open adrenalectomy still plays an important role in adrenal surgery. A review of the current literature has been carried out to discuss the main indication to open adrenalectomy with regards to the main adrenal pathologies. The authors underlined the role of open adrenalectomy on the basis of personal experience and a literature review. Indication to open adrenalectomy for adrenal cysts, myelolipomas, pheochromocytomas, metastases, adrenocortical carcinomas and tumour recurrences were analysed and discussed. Open adrenalectomy has still an important role in several adrenal pathologies: it is mandatory in some specific situations, such as big lesions, risk of malignancy, emergency settings and in case of recurrent tumoral disease.