Surgical experience on the management of early gastric carcinoma (EGC) related to a series of 54 subjects was observed from 1974 to 1984. Thirty-four patients were male, 20 were female; median age was 61.84 (range 22-79) years. Malignancy always occurred in the middle or distal third of the stomach. A partial subtotal gastrectomy (two-thirds of the stomach) with Roux en Y or Billroth II reconstruction was performed. Omentectomy and lymph node dissection of the primary and secondary groups of nodes, according to General Rules, was always performed. Age-corrected 5- and 10-year survival rates were 95.7% and 84.3%, respectively. Based on their experience, the authors discuss the surgical approach to EGC stressing the need for an accurate lymph node dissection and pointing out that results of subtotal gastrectomy are similar to that reported in the literature for total gastrectomy. The only absolute need for a total gastrectomy may be the presence of an EGC in the proximal third of the stomach. To this end the authors compare their results with 5- and 10-year series from Japanese and western countries reported in the literature.