Summary: The objective of this study was to investigate whether a history of previous instrumental delivery imposes a higher risk of operative delivery in subsequent pregnancies. The outcome of labour in 108 women with 1 previous instrumental delivery was compared to that of 216 randomly‐selected controls delivered in the same period. There was no difference between these 2 groups of patients in maternal age, height, parity, gestational age, incidence of induction of labour, incidence of epidural analgesia, or birth‐weight of the babies. The incidence of instrumental delivery was found to be 8.3% among the study group, which was significantly higher than that of 2.3% among the control cases (relative risk = 3.6, 95% CI 1.24 to 10.5). This increase in risk of operative delivery was independent to the indications for or the type of instrumental delivery in previous pregnancies. We conclude that women with 1 previous instrumental delivery are at a higher risk of repeat operative delivery. This may have implication in assessing patients for home delivery.