Secondary mitral regurgitation (MR) develops as a consequence of postinfarction remodelling of the ventricle or other causes of left ventricular (LV) dilatation and dysfunction. The presence of MR amplifies the poor prognosis of the failing ventricle, but it has not been established whether the adverse outcomes stem from the MR or whether the MR is simply a marker of progressive LV dysfunction. In this article, an attempt will be made to clarify the clinical impact of mitral surgery and transcatheter repair in patients with secondary MR. Observational studies indicate symptomatic improvement, but the results of randomised trials are mixed. Furthermore, neither mitral surgery nor transcatheter repair consistently leads to reversal of the adverse LV remodelling. There is, however, general agreement that these procedures do not have a salutary effect on survival. Certainly mitral surgery and transcatheter repair can substantially reduce the mitral regurgitant flow, but inconsistencies and uncertainties regarding clinical outcomes persist in the published literature. Some such problems could be resolved by utilisation of more accurate and reproducible imaging modalities in randomised studies of patients who are most likely to benefit from a reduction in the regurgitant volume—namely those with the most severe MR.