The history of this oldest among German surgical journals, in the second half of the twentieth century, is outlined from an editor's point of view. In this period, the journal mutated from a conservative refuge for lengthy theses to an innovative peer-review organ. Apart from original research and clinical reports, the journal now ran regular editorials, discussion panels and sections on Current Operative Techniques as well as Clinical Anatomy and finally developed into an English-language publication. This half-century of surgical progress-second to none in the history of surgery-is of course reflected in the contents of the journal. At the same time, specialisation and fragmentation of surgery from within and the advent of ever more competitive journals from without have presented a serious challenge to the survival of this traditional organ.