Between January 1970 and December 1988, 105 consecutive patients underwent complete resection for lung metastases from sarcoma, 33 of them in the years from 1970 to 1983 and 72 between 1984 and 1988. In the latter period, new criteria consisting of early bilateral surgical staging and lung resection through median sternotomy were adopted for the management of lung metastases, in all patients with purely intrathoracic relapse. There was no operative mortality, follow-up was updated in August 1989, and actuarial survivals were calculated by the logrank method at 36 months from the time of first lung resection. During the second period, the overall actuarial survival at three years improved significantly (24% vs. 50%, P less than 0.02), notwithstanding the higher incidence of patients with unfavourable prognostic factors. The three-year survival was also significantly better in the subset of patients with a disease-free interval less than or equal to 12 mos. and/or multiple pathological lesions (9% vs. 45%, P less than 0.05). Contralateral occult metastases were resected in 10 of 29 subjects who underwent sternotomy for monolateral clinical lesions. Of 26 patients with further intrapulmonary recurrence, 16 (62%) were amenable to re-operation and eventual surgical rescue. These data suggest that median sternotomy and early management of occult contralateral disease may contribute to an improvement in the long-term survival of patients with metastatic sarcomas. On the other hand, it is possible that the effectiveness of salvage surgery is related to the higher activity and wider application of adjuvant and salvage chemotherapy.