The authors evaluated tumor recurrence as an end point in 1077 uveal melanoma patients treated by proton beam irradiation between 1975 and 1987, with a mean follow-up of 4.0 years. Twenty tumors (1.9%) exhibited definitive growth between 4 months and 66 months after irradiation (median, 19 months): 10 were marginal recurrences, 5 were ring melanomas, 3 were uncontrolled tumors, and 2 were extrascleral extensions. Ten of these eyes were enucleated without further intervention, 2 patients died of metastases soon after the growth was detected, and 8 patients had further conservative therapy. In 5 other patients, tumor growth was suspected but unconfirmed and the eye was enucleated elsewhere; the 5-year probability of local tumor control based on 25 recurrences was 97% +/- 1%. There was a nonsignificant increase in the rate of metastases among patients with documented tumor recurrence (adjusted relative risk, 1.5; 95% confidence interval, 0.66 to 3.4). Results suggest that recurrence of uveal melanomas treated by proton beam therapy is uncommon, but that treatment failure may increase risk of death from metastasis.