Thyroid surgery for substernal goiter is an uncommon operation. This study was carried out to evaluate the clinical presentation, workup, surgical complications, and risk of malignancy for substernal goiter. From January 1995 to June 2001, 52 patients [27 men and 25 women (ratio, 1.1:1); average age of 52 years (range, 26-71 years)] underwent thyroid surgery for substernal goiter at Akdeniz University Hospital. All patients were symptomatic at presentation. A chest radiograph was used for most patients with a computed tomography scan being by far the most helpful in the study. A cervical approach was adequate for resection of the lesions in 50 (96%) patients. Two (4%) patients required medial sternotomy for removal of thyroid tissue. There was no perioperative mortality. Transient recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN) palsy occurred in 2 (4%) patients, and permanent RLN occurred in 2 (4%) patients. The incidence of transient and permanent hypoparathyroidism was 8% and 6%, respectively. Other complications included wound infection in 2 (4%) patients and postoperative bleeding in 1 patient (2%). Histopathologically, 46 (88%) lesions were benign and 6 (12%) were malignant. Because the history of substernal goiter is progressive enlargement, surgical removal of thyroid tissue is always indicated and should be performed as soon as possible, unless there are contraindications for surgery. Cervical collar incision is nearly always adequate, with few exceptions.