We studied the effects of antibiotic prophylaxis, systemically and in bone cement, on the revision rate of cemented total hip arthroplasties (THAs) in data from the Norwegian Arthroplasty Register during the period 1987-2001. To have comparable groups, only THAs performed because of primary osteoarthritis, using cemented implants with documented good results, and high-viscosity cement were included. If systemic antibiotic prophylaxis had been given, only operations with cephalosporin or penicillin were selected. Cox-estimated survival relative revision risks (RR) are presented with adjustment for differences among groups in gender, age, cement brand, type of systemic antibiotic prophylaxis, type of prosthesis, type of operating room, and duration of the operation. Of 22,170 THAs studied, 696 THAs (3.1%) were revised, 440 (2.0%) for aseptic loosening and 102 (0.5%) for deep infection. We found the lowest risk of revision when the antibiotic prophylaxis was given both systemically and in the cement (15,676 THAs). Compared to this combined regime, patients who received antibiotic prophylaxis only systemically (5,960 THAs) had a 1.4 times higher revision rate with all reasons for revision as endpoint (p = 0.001), 1.3 times higher with aseptic loosening (p = 0.02) and 1.8 times higher with infection as the endpoint (p = 0.01). With the combined antibiotic regime, the results were better if antibiotics were given 4 times on the day of surgery (2,194 THAs), as compared to once (1,424 THAs) (p < 0.001), twice (2,680 THAs) (p < 0.001), or 3 times (5,522 THAs) (p = 0.02). Those who received systemic prophylaxis a single day 1, 2 or 3 times, as compared to 4 times, had a revision rate 1.8-3.5 times higher with all reasons for revision as endpoint, 1.5-3.1 times higher with aseptic loosening, and 2.7-6.8 times higher with infection. When we compared systemic prophylaxis 4 times in 1 day, no further improvement resulted in those given systemic prophylaxis for 2 days (1,928 THAs) or 3 days (717 THAs). In a subset of data including only the Charnley prosthesis, we obtained similar results. This observational study shows that the best results were recorded when antibiotic prophylaxis was given both systemically and in the bone cement, and if the systemic antibiotic was given 4 times on the day of surgery.