We analyzed the results of an aggressive surgical approach to intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma. Between 1990 and 1997, 30 of 42 patients with intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma underwent resection with curative intent. Mean tumor size was 10 +/- 5 cm, and the tumors were classified as TNM type III, IVa, and IVb in 63%, 34%, and 3% of the patients, respectively. All patients underwent hepaticoduodenal lymphadenectomy. Fifteen patients received adjuvant radio- and chemotherapy. The overall survival rates at 1, 2, and 3 years were 86%, 63%, and 22%, respectively, and the median survival time was 28 months. Tumor recurrence was the main cause of death. Three patients survived for more than 5 years, including 2 patients with no evidence of recurrence. Factors influencing survival were: presence of satellite nodules (P = 0.007) and lymph node invasion (P = 0.05). The width of the resection margin and the use of an adjuvant therapy had no impact on survival. Complete surgical resection may offer a chance for long-term survival in selected patients and may improve the quality of life of patients with more advanced disease.