To report our experience of laparoscopic living donor nephrectomy (LDN) vs open donor nephrectomy (ODN), as LDN offers potential advantages to the donor and has become a routine procedure for live kidney procurement worldwide. Between February 2000 and August 2005 we performed 183 donor-recipient operations at our institution (ODN, 83; LDN, 100). We prospectively collected information on all donors and recipients for the same period to audit our experience with the first 100 LDNs. Patients made their operative choice after discussions that included unit experience and published information. We present our findings with the emphasis on donor operative details and early recipient graft outcome. Donor and recipient age, gender, body mass index, human leukocyte antigen mismatches, and vascular anastomotic times did not differ significantly between the groups. There were two conversions to an open operation in the LND group; neither affected recipient-graft outcome. The mean (sd) operative duration was 178 (38) min for the LDN and 159 (34) min for the ODN (P < 0.05). The mean (sd) hospital stay was 4.7 (1.2) days in the LND group and 6.8 (1.5) days in the ODN group (P < 0.05). There was one case of delayed graft function in both groups. Serum creatinine levels at 1, 6 and 12 months after transplantation did not differ significantly between the groups. Our contemporaneous series shows the safe introduction of a laparoscopic living-donor programme without compromising donor patient safety or allograft outcome.