An apparatus is disclosed for endoscopic application of surgical staples to body tissue in laparoscopic hernia surgery, preferably with surgical mesh. The apparatus includes a staple storage cartridge supported on a pivotal support system at the distal end of the endoscopic section. An elongated pusher system extends from the frame to the endoscopic section and individually advances the staples distally. A pair of legs project distally from the pusher plate to engage the staple during closure to prevent unwanted roll or deformation of the staple. A trigger system actuates the pusher. An anvil structure having rounded anvil legs to match the configuration of the staples provides for individually closing each staple to encompass at least a portion of the surgical mesh and to penetrate the body tissue to attach the portion of the mesh to the body tissue. The staple storage cartridge may be pivoted with respect to the longitudinal axis of the endoscopic section from 0.degree. to about 20.degree., 45.degree., and 65.degree. and the cartridge may be rotated about its own axis independent of the endoscopic section. The distalmost tip of the instrument includes two distally extending members which engage the body tissue to stabilize the orientation of the instrument during application of staples.