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Decompression alone (D) is a well-accepted treatment for patients with lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) causing neurogenic claudication; however, D is controversial in patients with LSS who have degenerative spondylolisthesis (DLS). Our goal was to compare the outcome of anatomy-preserving D with decompression and fusion (DF) for patients with grade I DLS. We compared patients with DLS who had elective primary 1–2 level spinal D at 1 centre with a cohort who had 1–2 level spinal DF at 5 other centres.Patients followed for at least 2 years were included. Primary analysis included comparison of change in SF-36 physical component summary (PCS) scores and the proportion of patients achieving minimal clinically important difference (MCID) and substantial clinical benefit (SCB).There was no significant difference in baseline SF-36 scores between the groups. The average change in PCS score was 10.4 versus 11.4 (p = 0.61) for the D and DF groups, respectively. Sixty-seven percent of the D group and 71% of the DF group attained MCID, while 64% of both D and DF groups attained SCB. There was no significant difference between D and DF for change in PCS score (p = 0.74) or likelihood of reaching MCID (p = 0.81) or SCB (p = 0.85) after adjusting for other variables.In select patients with DLS, the outcome of D is comparable to DF at a minimum of 2 years.