All cases of high-grade osteosarcoma (OS) (n = 196) and Ewing's sarcoma of bone (ES) (n = 56) treated at the Norwegian Radium Hospital in the period 1980-1999 were analyzed retrospectively. They were allocated to consecutive ten-year periods by their time of diagnosis. Patient and tumour characteristics have been relatively stable. Eighty percent of all patients received surgical treatment and the amputation rate decreased from 64% to 23%. The percentage of patients receiving chemotherapy has remained around 80%. The use of radiotherapy in primary treatment decreased gradually from 33% to 18%. Sarcoma specific survival (SSS) at five years for all patients increased significantly from 39% to 53%. Similar trends for improvement were seen for both OS and ES. In multivariate analysis, independent prognostic factors for improved SSS were non-metastatic disease at diagnosis, age under 40, extremity tumours, small tumours and treatment from 1995 onwards. No major new treatment options have emerged over these 20 years. The improved outcome appears partly to be due to refinements in the use of existing modalities and improved quality and integration of multidisciplinary approaches. Improved formalized organisation of the sarcoma group and annual audited reports of its patient and research activity may also have contributed to improved focus and performance.