In a prospective study of 103 patients with carcinoid tumors consecutively referred for medical treatment, the most common sites of the primary tumors were the ileum (73%), bronchi (7%), and jejunum (4%). All patients had local metastases, and 96 (93%) also had liver metastases. The most common initial symptoms were diarrhea (32%), ileus (25%), and flush (23%). The overall frequency of diarrhea was 84% and of flush was 75%. Heart insufficiency caused by cardiac valve disease was seen in 33% of the patients. The carcinoid syndrome, including flush, diarrhea, and elevated urinary 5-hydroxyindole acetic acid (5-HIAA) concentrations, was manifested by 69 patients (67%), 64 of whom (93%) had carcinoid tumors of mid-gut origin. Elevated urinary 5-HIAA was found in 91 patients (88%), of which 89 displayed liver metastases. The plasma concentration of the tachykinin neuropeptide K (NPK) was elevated in 67 patients (66%), 63 of whom had tumors of the mid-gut region. Serum pancreatic polypeptide (PP) and human chorionic gonadotrophin alpha levels were elevated in 43% and 28% of the patients, respectively, and the highest levels were found in patients with metastatic bronchial carcinoid tumors. Thirty-nine of the 103 patients are now dead; 18 died of tumor progression, whereas 14 patients died of heart failure secondary to a carcinoid tricuspidal valve insufficiency. The estimated median survival from the time of histologic diagnosis was 14 years, and from the time of carcinoid syndrome was 8 years.