Résumé : Sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) has almost completely replaced complete axillary lymph node dissection (CALND) as the first-line axillary procedure for clinically node-negative early stage breast cancer. We assessed the incidence of axillary relapse in patients with negative SLNB who had no additional CALND (group 1, n = 481) and in patients whose SLNB contained micrometastases and had no further CALND (group 2, n = 45). All patients were operated on between November 1997 and December 2005 and followed at the Jules Bordet Institute. The median follow-up was 48 months. A mean of 2.2 sentinel lymph nodes was removed per patient. Axillary relapse was observed in only one patient (0.2%) in group 1 and in none of the patients in group 2. This study confirms that the axillary recurrence rate after long-term follow-up of patients with a negative sentinel lymph node is very rare, provided that the selection criteria are judicious.