Which laptop? Powerbook? iBook?
Sometimes the battery isn't absolutely dead, but the circuitry inside thinks it is. If you have an older PB, have you tried resetting
My Pismo battery was truly dead, to the point where it could hold 0 charge, and the status indicator lights would not even light up. I replaced it with a battery from OWC and haven't looked back. (Provides 6:30 hours of life with my screen set to mid-brightness, 8 hours if set to the lowest setting!)