The aim of this study was to find the recurrence rates of basal cell carcinomas treated with micrographic surgery in the Department of Dermatology, University of Regensburg. From 1992 to 1997, 261 basal cell carcinomas (178 primary and 83 recurrent) have been treated. The mean duration of follow-up was 5 years (range 1-9). Data were analysed by life-table analysis. Eleven basal cell carcinomas (6 primary and 5 recurrent) recurred. The 5-year recurrence rates were 3.3% for primary and 7.3% for recurrent basal cell carcinomas. Our results are comparable with previously published data from Europe but seem higher than those reported in the USA. Use of different statistical methods to report the recurrence rates mainly accounts for the discrepancy among studies. For a better comparison among studies on recurrence rates, a standard statistical method should be used, and we support the idea that life-table analysis provides the best approximation of the true recurrence rates.