Postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV) is a distressing and potentially dangerous complication of general anaesthesia with volatile agents. The internationally reported average risk is 20 to 30%. It has been suggested that Jamaicans have a generally low risk of PONV and this is plausible since ethnic-based differences in response to emetogenic stimuli have been identified. It has also been suggested that laparoscopy, by stretching and irritation of the peritoneum during gas insufflation, may be a risk factor for PONV but it has become increasingly difficult to test this hypothesis as fewer comparable open abdominal operations are being performed. This retrospective cohort study of PONV after laparoscopic versus open cholecystectomy was designed to answer these two questions. Data were collected on 356 cases performed at two major hospitals in Jamaica. The risk of PONV after laparoscopic and open cholecystectomy was 28.7% and 28.6% respectively. As these are at the upper end of the internationally reported average range, the impression that PONV risk is generally low in Jamaicans is not supported. The finding that 81.4% of cases of PONV occurred only after discharge from the recovery room may explain the misconception. There was no significant difference between the risk of PONV after laparoscopic versus open cholecystectomy and the effect of laparoscopy remained insignificant after risk-adjustment in a generalized linear regression model. Laparoscopy is not a major risk factor for PONV in this study.