The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center experience with major amputation for advanced malignant melanoma from 1965 to 1984 is reported. This is a retrospective review of 58 patients who underwent hemipelvectomy, disarticulation of the hip and above knee or forequarter amputation for advanced or recurrent malignant melanoma. Major amputation with curative intent was performed upon 43 patients. There were three deaths that occurred 30 days postoperatively (7 per cent). Intransit metastasis was one of the indications for amputation in 33 patients, and local control of disease was achieved in 30 of 43 patients. The median time to recurrence in those patients who did have a recurrence was 12 months (a range of 18 days to 16 years). Fifteen of 40 patients who survived the operation had no evidence of disease five years after undergoing a major amputation. Age, sex, primary site, stage of disease at diagnosis and amputation, disease-free interval and positive node status at any time during the course of the disease were not predictive of the outcome. Neurovascular involvement with melanoma and positive margins of resection predicted early failure. A palliative amputation for impending major vascular disruption or extensive, fungating disease was performed upon 15 patients. There was one death 30 days after the operation, and generally, hospitalization did not exceed 30 days. Median survival time was five months. All of the patients died of local or distant disease within 33 months of treatment. Local recurrence preceded death in nine of 15 patients.