Laparoscopic colonic resection and laparoscopy for the assessment of malignant disease have been advocated. Metastatic deposits at port sites are recognized but the incidence of these is poorly defined. Forty-six patients, of median age 65 (range 19–90) years, with gastrointestinal malignancy underwent laparoscopy. Eighteen patients died a median of 4 (range 1–28) months after laparoscopy, four following colonic resection and 14 with gastro-oesophageal malignancy; ten had undergone resection. Median follow-up of the 28 survivors is 8 (range 2–39) months. Five of the 46 patients developed port-site recurrence giving an early incidence of port-site recurrence in this cohort of patients of 11 per cent. Five of 20 patients with tumour involving serosal surfaces developed port-site recurrence compared with none of 26 without serosal involvement (P = 0·022, Fisher's exact test). Port-site recurrence may be related to serosal involvement with tumour.