Thirty-eight primary tumors of the cervical spine were operated on in the Section of Neurosurgery, Department of Neurological Sciences, "La Sapienza" University of Rome between 1954 and 1988. Of these, 23 were malignant and 15 benign. The aims of surgical treatment in every case were tumor removal, decompression of the spinal cord, and conservation or restoration of vertebral stability. In no case was surgery confined to biopsy. Surgical stabilization was performed in 12 patients. Bone fusion was obtained with autologous bone (iliac crest, fibula) in benign tumors, whereas synthetic material (acrylic and metal) was used in malignant tumors. Past experience and greater awareness of the concrete possibilities of treating these tumors have led us to evolve the following strategy: 1. For aggressive benign tumors (osteoblastoma, giant cell tumors) and for malignancies in patients with fair life expectancy (solitary myeloma, chordoma): radical removal. 2. For benign tumors with low neoplastic potential and for malignant tumors in patients with poor life expectancy: conservative removal. Long-term results were gratifying in all benign lesions and low-grade malignancies even though two patients with chordomas needed reoperations. Sarcomas had relatively poor results.