From 1974 to 1981, we performed 28 core decompressions of the distal femur for pathologically confirmed avascular necrosis. At a mean follow-up of 54 months (range 20 to 140 months) and using the Ficat stages, all seven cases in stage I and stage II had good results. Of 21 cases in stage III, 11 cases had good results, four had poor results, and six needed total knee replacement. There were no significant orthopaedic complications. The procedure is worthwhile and will be more accurate with new methods of imaging.