We retrospectively reviewed 37 patients who underwent hepatic resection between 1970 and 1989 to evaluate the role of cytoreductive hepatic surgery in patients with metastatic neuroendocrine tumors (carcinoid, 24; islet cell, 13). Seventeen resections were curative (no gross residual tumor); nine patients had symptomatic endocrinopathies and seven patients had symptoms caused by the primary tumor. Eight of nine patients with symptomatic endorcrinopathies obtained complete relief of symptoms; five are alive with no evidence of disease at 2 to 82 months (mean, 26 months). Six of seven patients with symptoms caused by the primary tumor obtained complete relief; five are alive with no evidence of disease at 5 to 28 months (mean, 14 months). One symptom-free patient underwent curative hepatic resection 5 years after abdominoperineal resection for a rectal carcinoid. Twenty resections were palliative (gross residual tumor); 16 patients had symptomatic endocrinopathies and 4 patients had symptoms caused by the primary tumor. Eight of 16 patients with symptomatic endocrinopathies obtained complete relief; five are alive at 2 to 30 months (mean, 11 months), with a mean duration of complete relief of 6 months (3 to 12 months). All four patients who underwent resection for symptoms caused by the primary tumor obtained complete relief; two are alive and symptom free at 10 and 101 months. Our experience suggests that curative surgery should be considered in all patients with completely resectable metastatic disease and that palliative surgery, despite the short duration of complete relief, should be considered in selected patients because it delays and may reduce the subsequent need for medical therapy.