The role of amputation in soft tissue sarcoma of the extremity has decreased at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center during the last 20 years. In an attempt to determine the reasons for this change in therapy, an analysis of two separate databases involving 1,057 patients compiled during the periods of 1968 to 1978 and 1982 to 1990 was performed. The patients requiring amputation for soft tissue sarcoma of the extremity in the two databases (n = 233) were compared in an attempt to determine any significant differences between the two time periods. The groups were specifically compared for differences in risk factors, indications for amputations and the effect a decreasing incidence of amputation in the 1982 to 1990 group had on local recurrence and overall survival between the two groups. Despite similarity of risk factors and indications for amputation, the decreased incidence of amputation during the 1982 to 1990 period was associated with a significant decrease in local recurrence after amputation and no significant change in overall survival compared with the 1968 to 1978 group. Absence of local recurrence was associated with significant improvement in survival. Possible reasons for the shift in therapy, as well as the present and future role of amputation in soft tissue sarcoma of the extremity, are discussed.