Laparoscopic surgery is one of the most significant surgical advances of the twentieth century. Recently, the focus has been on the development of minimally invasive techniques in the form of single-incision laparoscopic surgery. The single-incision technique provides a less invasive alternative to conventional laparoscopic surgery, requiring only one incision disguised within the umbilical folds in contrast to the three to five incisions in conventional laparoscopic surgery. The availability of a number of specialised ports has aided the development of single-incision laparoscopic surgery, and led to its widespread use. The successful use of single-incision laparoscopic surgery has been reported for a number of surgical procedures, and offers several potential benefits versus conventional laparoscopic surgery, including reduced pain, reduced time to recovery and improved cosmesis. This review of international literature assesses the current status, as well as the experience, of single-incision laparoscopic surgery within general, colorectal, bariatric, metabolic, gynaecological and urological surgery. The challenges faced with single-incision laparoscopic surgery are discussed, as well as the clinical studies that are required in order to establish single-incision surgery as a significant improvement to conventional laparoscopic surgery in terms of reduced pain and improved cosmesis.