Background: Depth of tumor invasion (T-category) and the number of metastatic lymph nodes (N-category) are the most important prognostic factors in patients with gastric cancer. Recently, the ratio between metastatic and dissected lymph nodes (N-ratio) has been established as one. The aim of this study is to evaluate the impact of N-ratio and its interaction with N-category as a prognostic factor in gastric cancer. Methods: This was a retrospective study in which we reviewed clinical and pathological data of 165 patients who had undergone curative surgery at our institution through a 9-year period. The exclusion criteria included metastases, gastric stump tumors and gastrectomy with less than 15 lymph nodes dissected. Results: The median age of the patients was 63 years and most of them were male. Total gastrectomy was the most common procedure and 92.1% of the patients had a D2-lymphadenectomy. Their 5-year overall survival was 57.7%. T-category, N-category, extended gastrectomy, and N-ratio were prognostic factors in overall and disease-free survival in accordance with univariate analysis. In accordance with TNM staging, N1 patients who have had NR1 had 5-year survival in 75.5% whereas in the NR2 group only 33% of the cases had 5-year survival. In the multivariate analysis, the interaction between N-category and N-ratio was an independent prognostic factor. Conclusion: Our findings confirmed the role of N-ratio as prognostic factor of survival in patients with gastric cancer surgically treated with at least 15 lymph nodes dissected. The relationship between N-category and N-ratio is a better predictor than lymph node metastasis staging. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.