In a multicentric trial the postoperative mortality and the 5-year survival of elective total gastrectomy (TG) was compared with subtotal gastrectomy (SG) for adenocarcinoma of the antrum operated on with intent of cure. Two hundred and one patients were included in the study; 32 were excluded after pathologic examination (linitis plastica, superficial cancer, lymphoma). One hundred sixty-nine patients remained for analysis, with 93 undergoing TG and 76 undergoing SG. Elective TG did not increase postoperative mortality (1.3%) compared with SG (3.2%). There was no difference in the 5-year survival rate (48%). Analysis of survival showed no difference in the two techniques when related to nodal involvement and serosal extension. It is concluded that both TG and SG can be performed safely in patients with adenocarcinoma of the antrum; however TG did not increase the survival rate.