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After review of the first 209 polycentric total knee arthroplasties (in 159 patients) performed at the Mayo Clinic between July 1970 and November 1971, we found that the calculated probability of the arthroplasty remaining successful ten years postoperatively was 66 per cent. Actual results showed 42 per cent of the arthroplasties to be successful in patients who were still alive at review; another 24 per cent were successful but were in patients who had died or were lost to follow-up before ten years postoperatively. In 34 per cent failure occurred, which we defined as reoperation for any reason, unacceptable pain, or loss of function. The most common causes of failure were instability or ligament laxity (13 per cent), loosening of a component (7 per cent), infection (3 per cent), and patellofemoral joint pain (4 per cent). Prior knee surgery significantly decreased the probability of success, as did axial malalignment of the prosthetic components at operation.