Choice of articulating materials, head size and the design of the articulation will become decisive for the long-term performance of a total hip arthroplasty (THA) and especially in terms of risk for dislocation and wear-related problems. Here we account for common alternatives based on available studies and the evidence that can be derived from them.Metal or ceramic femoral heads articulating against a liner or cup made of highly cross-linked polyethylene and ceramic-on-ceramic articulations have about similar risk for complications leading to revision, whereas the performance of metal-on-metal articulations, especially with use of big heads, is inferior. The clinical significance of problems related to ceramic-on-ceramic articulations such as squeaking remains unclear. With use of current technology ceramic fractures are rare.Large femoral heads have the potential to increase the range of hip movement before impingement occurs and are therefore expected to reduce dislocation rates. On the other hand, issues related to bearing wear, corrosion at the taper-trunnion junction and groin pain may arise with larger heads and jeopardize the longevity of THA. Based on current knowledge, 32-mm heads seem to be optimal for metal-on-polyethylene bearings. Patients with ceramic-on-ceramic bearings may benefit from even larger heads such as 36 or 40 mm, but so far there are no long-term reports that confirm the safety of bearings larger than 36 mm.Assessment of lipped liners is difficult because randomized studies are lacking, but retrospective clinical studies and registry data seem to indicate that this liner modification will reduce the rate of dislocation or revision due to dislocation without clear evidence of clinically obvious problems due to neck-liner impingement.The majority of studies support the view that constrained liners and dual mobility cups (DMC) will reduce the risk of revision due to dislocation both in primary and revision THA, the latter gaining increasing popularity in some countries. Both these devices suffer from implant-specific problems, which seem to be more common for the constrained liner designs. The majority of studies of these implants suffer from various methodological problems, not least selection bias, which calls for randomized studies preferably in a multi-centre setting to obtain sufficient power. In the 2020s, the orthopaedic profession should place more effort on such studies, as has already been achieved within other medical specialties, to improve the level of evidence in the choice of articulation when performing one of the most common in-hospital surgical procedures in Europe. Cite this article: EFORT Open Rev 2020;5:763-775. DOI: 10.1302/2058-5241.5.200002.