Purpose We analyzed the long-term progression-free probability after radical retropubic prostatectomy in a consecutive series of patients with localized prostate cancer. Materials and Methods From 1983 to 1998, 1,000 patients (median age 62.9 years, range 37.7 to 81.4) with clinical stage T1 to T2 prostate cancer were treated with radical retropubic prostatectomy and pelvic lymphadenectomy, without other cancer related therapy before recurrence. Mean followup was 53.2 months (median 46.9, range 1 to 170). Results Ten years after radical retropubic prostatectomy the mean probability ± 2 standard errors that patients remained free of progression and of any further treatment was 75.0% ± 3.7% and of metastasis 84.2% ± 4.4%. Mean actuarial cancer specific survival rate ± 2 standard error was 97.6% ± 1.7%. In a multivariate analysis pretreatment prostate specific antigen level (p <0.0001), biopsy Gleason sum (p <0.0001) and clinical stage (p=0.0071) were independent prognostic factors for progression. After prostatectomy independent risk factors were Gleason sum in the prostatectomy specimen (p=0.0008), extracapsular extension (p=0.0019), seminal vesical involvement (p <0.0001), lymph node metastasis (p <0.0001) and surgical margin status (p <0.0001). Margins were positive in 12.8% of cases. At 10 years postoperatively radical retropubic prostatectomy was effective for cancer confined to the prostate (92.2% progression-free probability) and also not confined (52.8%), including 71.4% progression-free probability for patients with only extracapsular extension and 37.4% with seminal vesicle invasion without lymph node metastasis. Conclusions Radical retropubic prostatectomy provided long-term cancer control in 75% of patients with clinically localized prostate cancer and was effective in the majority of those with high risk cancer, including T2c or biopsy Gleason sum 8 to 10, or PSA greater than 20 ng./ml. Further research should address identifying patients who can safely avoid aggressive therapy.