Bilateral subthalamic (STN) deep brain stimulation (DBS) provides significant symptom relief for the majority of well-screened patients suffering with Parkinson's disease (PD). Implantation of stimulating electrodes bilaterally in a single session has become standard in most operating theaters worldwide. There is, however, limited evidence-based support for this approach. Although bilateral surgical procedures have been shown, using standardized clinical ratings, to provide greater motor benefits compared to unilateral procedures, bilateral procedures are more likely to be associated with increased acute and long-term complications including post-operative confusion, speech difficulties and cognitive dysfunction. Unilateral stimulation has been shown to provide significant benefits for appendicular and axial symptoms. The relative benefit of implanting one versus two sides and whether the degree of benefit associated with the second side is worth the potential risk of doing so have not been examined systematically. The relative magnitude of benefit associated with unilateral versus bilateral procedures is likely to vary from patient to patient, particularly in those patients with asymmetric symptomatology. As such, there are likely subsets of patients who do not require and therefore should not be exposed to the potential complications associated with bilateral simultaneous implantation. This review and commentary will outline our current understanding of the benefits associated with unilateral and bilateral STN DBS and discuss the role of unilateral or staged unilateral procedures as an alternative surgical approach for patients with advanced PD.