From 1970-1984, 114 patients with soft-tissue sarcomas received preoperative irradiation at U.T.M.D. Anderson Hospital. Two patients refused surgery and two had progressing disease and therefore did not proceed to surgery; in the remaining 110 patients, conservative surgical resections were performed 3-6 weeks following irradiation. Analysis of survival by histologic type, age, primary size, and histologic grade revealed a significant negative correlation with grade 3 and to a lesser extent to primary size greater than 15 cm. Eleven patients failed within the radiation portal for the primary, four in conjunction with distant metastases. Of the remaining seven, four were salvaged by further surgery for an ultimate primary-only failure rate of three. Distant metastasis occurred in 35 patients and was the major mechanism of treatment failure in this experience. Adjunctive chemotherapy was not used for the majority of patients and it remains to be seen if its routine employment in large, high-grade, lesions will diminish the deaths caused by distant metastases.