Prosthetic materials have gained popularity for ventral hernia repair. There are situations when the use of a mesh is either unnecessary or contraindicated. This study compares 51 patients with ventral hernia who underwent laparoscopic or open primary suture repair. Results were determined by a median follow-up of 33 months. Recurrence rates and operative time were the major parameters of outcome. Mean operative time was insignificantly shorter in the laparoscopic group (14.8 +/- 4.3 vs. 15.6 +/- 3.7 min). There were no short-term complications in groups. One patient in each group had recurrence. Conclusively, laparoscopic primary repair of small ventral hernias is simple and can be performed as an initial approach for small defects. Compared with open repair, it has the advantages of better exposure, reduced pain, and less morbidity. It can also be performed as a component of a combined laparoscopic operation. However, this technique is not recommended for repair of large ventral hernias.