Between 1960 and 1988, 139 consecutive patients underwent pulmonary resection for metastatic colorectal carcinoma. Median interval between colon resection and lung resection was 34 months. Ninety-eight patients (70.5%) had a solitary metastasis. Wedge excision was performed in 68 patients, lobectomy in 53, lobectomy plus wedge excision in 9, bilobectomy in 4, and pneumonectomy in 5. Operative mortality was 1.4%. Localized extrapulmonary colorectal cancer was also resected in 20 patients. Median follow-up was 7 years (range 1 to 20.4 years). Overall 5- and 20-year survival was 30.5% and 16.2%, respectively. Five-year survival for patients with solitary metastasis was 36.9%, as compared with 19.3% for those with two metastases (p less than 0.05) and 7.7% for those with more than two (p less than 0.01). Patients with normal carcino-embryonic antigen had a 5-year survival of 46.8% versus 16.0% for patients with increased levels (p less than 0.01). Five-year survival for patients with resected extrapulmonary disease was 30.0% versus 30.7% for those without extrapulmonary cancer (p = not significant). Repeat thoracotomy for recurrent metastases was done in 19 patients. Five-year survival after the second lung resection was 30.2%. We conclude that resection of colorectal lung metastases is safe and effective, that resectable extrapulmonary disease does not necessarily contraindicate pulmonary resection, and that repeat thoracotomy is warranted in selected patients with recurrent colorectal lung metastases.