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To identify changing trends in penetrating keratoplasties (PKs) performed at the Hotel-Dieu Hospital in Paris between January 1980 and December 1999 and to explain the reasons for the changes.We retrospectively reviewed 3,736 of the 3,836 PKs performed between January 1, 1980, and December 31, 1999, and classified them into diagnostic categories.The most common indications for PK were keratoconus (28.8%), herpetic infections (10.9%), graft failures (9.9%), aphakic and pseudophakic corneal edema (9.9%), Fuchs' endothelial dystrophy (9.4%), and nonherpetic leucoma (7.7%). Other indications represented 23.4% of the cases. The incidence of aphakic and pseudophakic corneal edema progressively increased between 1980 and 1991, became the most frequent indication in 1991 (21.4%), and then progressively decreased. The annual number of PKs increased between 1980 and 1986, decreased between 1987 and 1997, and increased again after September 1997. The decrease was caused by both a shortage of corneal buttons, and, in 1987, the fear of transmitting diseases through corneal transplantation, particularly human immunodeficiency virus. Beginning in 1992, decreases were also associated with stringent governmental regulations of eye bank tissue.Changes in the incidence and management of corneal disorders were the primary factors leading to modifications of grafting until 1987. After 1987, corneal button shortage probably corresponded to the acquired immune deficiency syndrome epidemic. Governmental regulations of eye banking led to a severe corneal button shortage between 1992 and 1997. Despite an increase in the number of PKs performed after 1997, corneal buttons are still preferentially allocated to patients in whom there is a high probability of graft success.