This paper estimates the risk of bacterial meningitis following surgery between 1996 and 2009 in Denmark. We conducted two retrospective nationwide cohort studies; first by linking notified bacterial meningitis cases to the National Patient Registry to see how many had undergone a surgical procedure; second, we scrutinized notified bacterial meningitis cases to see if the clinician suspected a surgical procedure to be the aetiology. We found that ear, nose and throat surgery had an 11-fold, and neurosurgery a sevenfold, increased risk compared to the reference group in the first 10 days following surgery. Streptococcus pneumoniae was the pathogen most often involved. Operation procedures involving penetration of dura mater was associated with increased risk for post-operative bacterial meningitis. In absolute numbers we found few bacterial meningitis cases after surgery; however, patients undergoing certain surgical procedures are at-risk and should be considered when national vaccination guidelines are revised.