Abstract Objectives To elucidate the prognostic significance of lymphovascular invasion (LVI) in patients with upper tract transitional cell carcinoma. Methods Of 86 patients with upper tract transitional cell carcinoma who underwent nephroureterectomy with bladder cuff (95%) or parenchymal-sparing (5%) surgery from 1991 to 2002, and who met our inclusion criteria, the data of 73 were available for pathologic review of LVI. The mean patient age was 59.1 years, and the median follow-up was 42.3 months. Using univariate and multivariate analyses, we determined the influence of multiple prognostic factors, including age, sex, tumor stage (T or N), tumor grade, and LVI, on the 5-year disease-specific and recurrence (local recurrence or distant metastasis)-free survival rates. We generated 5-year disease-specific and recurrence-free survival curves in terms of LVI in patients without lymph node involvement. Results The overall 5-year disease-specific and recurrence-free survival rate was 88% and 75%, respectively (n = 73). In univariate analysis, T stage, grade, and LVI significantly affected both survival rates. N stage was significant for 5-year recurrence-free survival. In multivariate analysis, LVI was the only significant predictor of recurrence-free survival, and no factor was significant for disease-specific survival. Of 10 patients with positive lymph nodes, 7 had LVI. In patients without lymph node involvement or Stage T4 disease (Ta-T3N0M0, n = 62), the 5-year disease-specific and recurrence-free survival rate was 98% and 94%, respectively, in the absence of LVI and 70% and 60%, respectively, in the presence of LVI ( P = 0.0005 and P = 0.0007, respectively). Conclusions LVI is an independent prognostic factor for recurrence-free survival in transitional cell carcinoma of the upper urinary tract. Because LVI is strongly associated with a poorer prognosis, systemic adjuvant therapy should be considered in the presence of LVI, even if the lymph nodes are not involved.