Surgery still plays an important role even in advanced endocrine tumours of the pancreas, owing to their biological behaviour. Sometimes it is possible to attempt a radical approach, but more often only cytoreduction is feasible. In fact, when the malignancy is not completely resectable on account of vessel involvement or extensive liver metastases, surgical reduction of the tumour burden (debulking) can be proposed, aimed at improving the clinical conditions and survival of these patients. Forty-one patients suffering from advanced endocrine tumour of the pancreas were observed from 1985 to 1996. In 13 patients, the disease was locally advanced as far as concerns lymph node metastases and/or vessel involvement, while the other 28 patients presented liver metastases. In the former group, we performed 6 radical resections, in the latter we submitted 2 patients to radical resection and 12 patients to cytoreductive surgery, with complete removal of the pancreatic malignancy. The overall survival of the resected patients was 87% (7/8). Three patients (37.5%) are alive and free of disease, while the other 4 have subsequently developed liver metastases. One patient died with hepatic recurrence. Half the patients (6/12) undergoing cytoreductive surgery are alive, 3 with stable and 3 with progressive disease. The other 6 patients have died due to liver progression of the disease. As data in the literature concerning the role of debulking as regards the survival are conflicting, we have modified our surgical approach in patients with advanced disease. We perform cytoreductive surgery whenever complete removal of the pancreatic tumour is feasible. The rationale of this approach is to leave only a liver with residual disease, with a view to giving targeted adjuvant treatment.