The results of turbinate reduction surgery carried out on 307 patients are reviewed. This is a retrospective study over 16 years. The results of submucosal diathermy with and without outfracture, partial inferior turbinectomy and linear cautery were all equally disappointing in the long term. At 1 month postoperatively the overall success rate, as defined by patient satisfaction, was 82%, but this declined steadily with time to 60% at 3 months, 54% at 1 year and 41 % at 1–16 years. There was no significant difference found in the success rates between methods of turbinate reduction used. These findings are compared with more optimistic reports in the literature and their relevance to current surgical practice is discussed.