We evaluated the outcome in a series of patients with recurrent patellar dislocation who had either medial transfer of the tibial tuberosity and lateral release or an isolated lateral release as the primary treatment. The decision to use one or other procedure was based on a pre-operative distance between the tibial tuberosity to the trochlear groove (TTTG) of less than 10 mm to include the tibial tuberosity transfer in addition to the lateral release. Between April 2002 and December 2006, 49 patients (63 knees) underwent one of these procedures. A total of 35 patients (46 knees) was evaluated at a mean of 38 months (13 to 71) post-operatively. Medial transfer of the tibial tuberosity was performed in 33 knees and isolated lateral release in the remaining 13. Evaluation included the International Knee Documentation Committee (IKDC), the Kujala and the Short-form 36 scores. From the tibial tuberosity group 23 knees also underwent radiological examination at follow-up. There were further episodes of patellar dislocation in six of the 46 knees available for review. Further dislocation was noted in five of 33 knees (15.2%) in the tibial tuberosity transfer group and in one of 13 knees (7.7%) in the lateral release group. The mean subjective IKDC score was 80.4 (sd 11.6), the mean Kujala score 88 (sd 8.2) and the mean objective IKDC score was 79% normal and 21% nearly normal. The mean post-operative TTTG distance in the tibial tuberosity transfer group was 8.9 mm (3.2 to 15.7) compared with the mean pre-operative value of 16.8 mm (12.2 to 24.4).