Retrospective analysis of 165 patients (105 males, 60 females) with a mean age of 21.2 years (range 14 to 25 years) of 6933 surgically treated patients from January 1987 to May 1999 focused on age and sex distribution, body mass, familial predisposition, trauma, histology, and clinical course. The incidence of herniated lumbar discs was 2.3% in patients aged up to 25 years. A valid family history was obtained in 121 patients and a positive history was found in 82 of these patients (67.8%). The patients had a higher body mass index compared to a group of individuals with a similar age structure. Radiography demonstrated bony changes in 124 patients (75.2%), primarily attributable to postural deformities such as scoliosis. The condition of the bony structures seems to be more important than the condition of the disc tissue in the occurrence of this disease in young patients.