This investigation examined the cumu-lative survival rate of the implant-supported overdenture using two types of attachments in patients treated at Show Chwan Memorial Hospital Implant Center from 1992 to 2006. Fifty-one patients (30 men and 21 women) were treated with mandibular implant-supported overdentures. Attachment systems used were the Hader bar with bilateral, cast ERA attachments (Group A, 31 patients with 15 men and 16 women, 134 implants) and the Hader bar with bilateral, distal extension cantilevers (Group B, 20 patients with 15 men and 5 women, 85 implants). Two hundred and four implants remained at the end of the follow-up period. Among failed implants, 10 implants were in Group A (failure rate: 10/134 = 7·5%), whereas five implants were in Group B (failure rate: 5/85 = 5·9%). Sixty-six point seven per cent (10/15) of failed implants were placed in the distal anterior mandible, and 33·3% (5/15) were placed in the middle anterior mandible. Survival was also examined with respect to condition of the opposing arch. Patients wearing a maxillary removable partial denture had the highest implant failure rate (5/51 = 9·8%), whereas the failure rate of the maxillary complete denture group was only 5·7%. The most frequent need for maintenance was wear over patrix component of ERA or Hader clip (n = 56). Eight patients experienced connector fracture between ERA and Hader bar, and one experienced distal extension cantilever fracture. The implant-supported overdenture can be an effective and reliable alternative to the conventional complete mandibular denture. Fewer prosthetic complications were seen in overdentures retained with distal extension cantilever attachments. © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.